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January 7, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:03pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc has set a late January debut for the next generation of the Cray superservers it picked up from Silicon Graphics Inc last year, hears Unigram.X. Sun rescued the $50m Solaris-on-end of Cray’s business when the company was acquired by Silicon Graphics Inc in February 1996 (CI No 2,860, 2,916). The machines, which under Cray’s administration had been code named Xfire (pronounced CrossFire), were originally aimed at the same market as Sun’s own SunFire boxes, now known officially as Ultra Enterprise Servers. They have now been upgraded and renamed as the Starfire line. Volume deliveries, if such a concept applies in the world of 64-way machines, are said to be due in March. However, Sun is believed to have installations already including one at Pratt & Whitney Co, still said to be its biggest commercial account, despite heavy pressure from Hewlett Packard Co and Digital Equipment Corp. The StarFires started out as next- generation CS6400s, produced by the 200-man Cray Business Systems Division now a part of Sun, and were due to be launched last April before the Silicon Graphics acquisition upset the apple cart. The enhanced versions are thought to use UltraSparc chips, possibly the unannounced 250MHz variety, and Sun’s GigaPlane bus. The chips are packaged as Ultra Enterprise cards each with two processors and 2Gb memory, with 32 cards fitting into an enclosure. What could be especially interesting to Sun is that the StarFires can be partitioned so that there are actually two or more separate systems in a single share- everything enclosure – something that IBM Corp’s SP Parallel machines apparently can’t do. Such a facility is useful for redundancy among other things. Sun expects the machines to extend its current high-end, the ostensibly 30-way E6000, by three to five times with over 10Gbits/sec throughput. StarFire clusters using Dolphin Interconnect Solution A/S interconnects should support up to 1,024 processors.

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