Cray Releases Highly Scalable, More Inclusive Super-Linux

We'd all love to have a supercomputer, but sadly, most of us will never have the chance to put that much umph in our computing. If you happen to be in the market for a sweet little Linux box with a half-million cores or so, though, Cray may have just what you're looking for.

On Wednesday, Cray Inc. — maker of some of the fastest supercomputers in the world — released the third-generation of its super-operating system. What makes it so super special? For one, it's Linux — and that's always a good thing.

And Linux is at the root of one of its newest features and biggest selling points: what Cray is calling "Cluster Compatibility Mode." Previous versions of the Cray Linux Environment (CLE) have not played nicely with third-party applications — considerable cost and effort was required to port programs to utilize Cray's proprietary communication protocol.

That is a thing of the past, however, with the Cluster Compatibility Mode in CLE 3. Customers can now deploy third-party applications on their Cray systems as though it were an ordinary Linux cluster — no porting required. According to Cray's Scalable Systems VP Barry Bolding, CLE 3 "can run our customers' key ISV applications right out of the box."

Offerings from a number of independent software vendors (ISVs) — including SIMULIA, Accelrys, and CEI — have already confirmed that their applications will run under CLE 3 without modification. CEI President Anders Grimsrud described the Cluster Compatibility Mode as "a game-changing feature in Cray's latest operating system," going on to say that his company is "pleased to again be a part of the Cray computing environment for HPC."

Another key feature of CLE 3 is its dramatically-increased scalability. The previous version of the Cray Linux Environment could support as many as 200,000 cores — CLE 3 nearly triples that capacity, supporting upwards of 500,000 cores. Additional performance-enhancing features have been added that allow far more fine-grained control of system resources, offering performance enhancements of as much as 10% - 20%.

Cray plans to begin distribution of CLE 3 on its XT6/XT6m line, and expand to its XT5/XT5m offerings before the end of the year.

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