Maintaining its leadership in HPC performance among open systems solutions, Silicon Graphics today unveiled a new version of its SGI Altix® 3700 system that delivers twice the bandwidth and processor density of its flagship high-end model. The new Altix® 3700 Bx2 model makes it easier for users to cost-effectively deploy the world’s most powerful system based on the industry-standard Linux® OS and Intel® Itanium® 2 processors—delivering more compute power while requiring less space.

The Altix 3700 Bx2 is the latest model to join the highly successful SGI Altix family of servers and supercomputers. Oct. 26, the NASA Columbia supercomputer, powered by 20, 512-processor SGI Altix systems, was confirmed as the fastest computer in history. (See related announcement, NASA, SGI and Intel Build and Deploy ‘Columbia’ in Record Time: New Supercomputer World’s Most Powerful.)

The new system, which will also accommodate the forthcoming Itanium 2 processors with 9MB cache, enables customers to pack 64 processors into a standard Altix rack. Incorporating fewer components within its innovative, more cost-effective form factor, the new Altix 3700 achieves a price/performance improvement of up to 50 percent over the earlier model, and is ideal for mid-range and high-end computing environments where both performance and space availability are at a premium.

Working with rapidly growing data sets and problem complexity, HPC users in manufacturing, life sciences, and homeland security environments must commit more facility space to large storage arrays and other assets, prompting them to seek out higher-density servers and supercomputers. For instance, eight of the new high-density Altix systems are part of NASA’s historic Columbia supercomputer deployment. NASA needed the new Altix systems to enable its supercomputing facility to accommodate Columbia’s 20 Altix systems.

Scaling to 256 Itanium 2 processors in a single system, Altix 3700 leverages the powerful SGI NUMAflex™ global shared-memory architecture to derive maximum application performance from new high-density CPU bricks. The new configuration also doubles available bandwidth between Altix racks with SGI’s NUMAlink™ 4 interconnect technology—the industry’s fastest at 6.4GB/sec. Each Altix 3700 system can contain 16 to 256 processors, 8 gigabytes to 24 terabytes of globally addressable memory, more than 1,500 PCI-X slots, and delivers over 3 gigabytes per second of sustained I/O bandwidth.

“With today’s announcement, SGI continues to pursue the aggressive evolution curve that we first established with the introduction of Altix in January of last year,” said Jeff Greenwald, senior director of marketing and management, Server and Platform Group, SGI. “The Altix 3700 Bx2, with a new 64-processor rack and higher bandwidth topology, takes an already industry-leading system and significantly boosts its deployability and cost-effectiveness. For HPC and mid-range environments that must balance the need for more compute resources with increasingly limited floor space, the new Altix 3700 system continues to serve as the standard bearer among open standards-based systems.”

For the first time on a product carrying the SGI brand, the new Altix system also can be installed with an optional water-cooled door, which provides system cooling capabilities in addition to the Altix system’s existing air-cooled architecture. Already in use at NASA, the water-cooled door option is ideal for environments in which high-density systems are deployed in close proximity to other large-scale equipment.

“The Itanium processor family delivers exceptional performance and value for high-performance computing uses such as life sciences, manufacturing and oil exploration,” said Carol Barrett, director, Enterprise Platform Marketing, Intel. “The new Altix 3700 Bx2 is a balanced compute system that combines the leading Itanium processor performance with increased density and ease of deployment.”

Leveraging newly available components, current Altix 3700 customers can increase the density of their existing systems to support up to 256 processors per system. In addition, all Altix systems now can support higher-density CPU bricks with 1.5MHz and 1.6MHz Itanium 2 processors. Altix users also can upgrade to faster the NUMAlink 4 interconnect.


SGI Altix 3700 systems are available today in single-system configurations of 16 to 256 processors, with larger multi-system configurations scaling to thousands of processors. For customers demanding even larger Altix systems, SGI plans to support single-system configurations of 2,048 and more processors over time. Additional Altix system technical and availability information is posted on