Partner Newsletter Q2 2011 Intel Cluster Ready Articles 1

Ready, Set, Go Sandy Bridge!

By Christopher Heller
HPC Solutions Engineer
Intel Cluster Ready

The next-generation Intel® microarchitecture codenamed Sandy Bridge is lighting up the PC marketplace and is set to transform the server and cluster segments when Sandy Bridge-EP comes to the Intel® Xeon® processor E5 family later this year.

The Intel® Cluster Ready team is hard at work to help our partners take full and immediate advantage of the new technology. Let me tell you about it.

Faster to Market for Certified Clusters and Registered Applications
Sandy Bridge-EP is our revolutionary new microarchitecture based on Intel® 32nm process technology. It delivers yet another leap in performance and energy efficiency and allows our design teams to integrate even more capabilities into the processor. With HPC resources in more demand than ever, I know I’m not alone in thinking that many cluster customers will be eager to incorporate the new technology when it ships in Q4 2011 and Q1 2012.

Not long ago, it took six months or more to get all the OS, provisioning software, drivers, and other necessary cluster elements in place after a major processor launch. We reduced that time-lag significantly with the Nehalem and Westmere launches. Now, with Sandy Bridge, we’re taking our efforts several steps further to ensure that the cluster elements you need are ready at launch.

We’re delivering an Intel Cluster Ready partner guide that specifically designed to help you launch your Sandy Bridge-based clusters as soon as we physically ship the processors. Our goal is that on your first orders, you can confidently build on our efforts and ship clusters immediately.

Synchronizing the Needed Cluster Elements
Working as a part of Intel, one of our most important duties is to provide enabling support to software vendors so they can take advantage of new technologies present in our hardware launches. This may sound generic, but we do a lot of work behind the scenes to eliminate or reduce any delays in rolling out new processors that are destined for HPC clusters. Here are some of the key steps we’re taking as we work to synchronize the Sandy Bridge launch and all the software and other components needed for a cluster.

  • We started last year in setting up a task force that began gathering information internally and working with teams within Intel that had early access to hardware and simulators.
  • We started coordinating with the teams that interface with the Linux* kernel and major commercial Linux distributions.
  • We used our strong ties to high speed interconnect vendors and the Open Fabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) team, along with ties to motherboard vendors to talk about driver support.
  • We have worked to research, test, and advise these critical component providers, and we continue to do so.
  • In the most recent phase, we have started advising our Intel Cluster Ready commercial provisioning vendors-Bright, Clustercorp (StackIQ), and Platform Computing-on what they need to support regarding kernels, drivers, OS versions, OFED, and other software components.
  • We are running tests on early hardware and giving our provisioning vendors access to this hardware so they can test out their products. We are also actively helping them by preemptively fixing bugs, testing beta operating systems and kernels, and much more.
Ready at Launch
With all the new technology that’s going into Sandy Bridge-EP, we know you’ll want to be ready at the gates for this launch. By building on the solid fundamentals and implementation of the Intel Cluster Ready program, plus the research, preparation, and coordination we’re doing to prepare for the launch, you’ll be ready to delight your customers with solutions soon after processor launch. You’ll also be in a great position to take full advantage of all the industry attention and marketing buzz that will surround the launch. All of this is a benefit of being a valued partner in the Intel Cluster Ready program.

Bring your next-generation clusters to market faster.
» Get an early copy of our Sandy Bridge Solution Guide, and start planning your own launch activities. Send email to


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