Sequent Computer Systems Inc duly took the wraps off its NUMA-Q 2000 enterprise Unix servers yesterday, claiming they will deliver between two and 12 times the performance of traditional symmetric multiprocessing servers, and perform upwards of 20,000 transactions per minute – without clustering – when TPC-C benchmarks are released next month. Sequent has re-designed Intel Corp’s four-way Pentium Pro SHV boards for NUMA-Q, and employs a Scalable Coherent Interface-based IQ-Link data pump using Vitesse Semiconductor gallium arsenide chips – originally code-named Sting – to interconnect up to 63 SHV boards each with up to 1Gb RAM. IQ-Link interconnects, each with a 32Mb cache, pass data between adjacent boards at up to 1Gbps. IQ-Plus connections link up to eight quads in a ring, each with up to seven PCI slots; NUMA-Q 2000 cabinets can accommodate up to five quads. By migrating processes to be close to the data held in local memory, remote access over IQ-Link/Plus are kept to a minimum, although even when latencies incurred by processors accessing remote memory are factored in, performance is deemed to be better than current SMP systems. Sequent claims that within NUMA-Q 2000, 93% of all accesses are handled at the board level over the local cache coherent bus. Unlike NUMA, SMP system performance deteriorates as processors are added to the backplane. Sequent’s Dynix/ptx operating system sees the memories attached to each board as one logical shared-everything system. The new systems are binary compatible with Sequent’s existing Symmetry and WinServer 5000 servers and Symmetry and other SCSI disk subsystems can be deployed with NUMA-Q 2000 when re-fitted for Fiber Channel using Sequent’s bridging technology until native Fiber Channel peripherals begin to come on stream. Clustering follows next quarter as well as support for 4Gb RAM per SHV board. Sequent is aiming NUMA-Q at the decision support and high- end OLTP markets, and claims cutting-edge configurations being co-designed with poster boy customers such as General Motors and British Telecom will pull through other DSS business. Although IBM Corp’s SP2 has the lion’s share of the DSS market, Sequent says in its customers’ experience SP2 doesn’t scale well; it is most concerned with the competition from Sun Microsystems Inc’s latest Ultra Enterprise 10000 servers. NUMA-Q 2000 prices start at around $250,000 including a NT-based administration console. Sequent supplies EMC and Clariion disk subsystems. The company claims seven of the world’s top ten open systems data warehouses run on its servers. Sequent, which is currently looking to buy or build a 64-bit Unix requirement claims to have shipped 125 systems to date and did around $46m revenue on NUMA-Q 2000 sales last quarter.
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