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2002, July week 1

See also:- article:- How Long Can Sun Stand the Heat in the Server Benchmark Wars?
article:- SAN Data Security & Fabric Management - by Datalink
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Scali
. The market for clustering solutions is set to grow significantly over the next 3-5 years, as the monolithic and expensive installations in use today are being replaced by cluster solutions. The cluster market is forecasted by IDC to have a compounded annual growth rate exceeding 30% in the period 2000 - 2005, from a total of $ 613 million in 2000 to $ 2.4 billion in 2005.
Scali Announces Closure of Second Investment Round

Oslo - July 3, 2002 - Scali AS is pleased to announce that it has closed the second round of its Series B funding round. New investor Four Seasons Venture III led the round. Intel Capital joined as an investor and existing investors Kongsberg Gruppen and SND Invest also participated. Financial details were not disclosed.

The Linux-based Scali software is designed to enable companies to create supercomputing capabilities from standard servers, rather than to purchase dedicated large machines. Scali clustering technology can reduce the cost of computing by more than a factor of ten for major high performance applications. Scali has a blue chip customer reference list and proven technology in use with customers in Europe and North America. Current customers include Daimler Chrysler, BMW, deCode Genetics, Lockheed Martin, Norsk Hydro, US Naval Air, PGS and Rolls Royce.

The funds will be dedicated to further strengthen the underlying technology platform of Scali, to boost sales and marketing efforts and for general corporate development purposes. ...Scali profile
Scali Announces Closure of Second Investment Round

Dollar Slide Against the British Pound Creates New Opportunities for US Exporters

I-Bus/Phoenix Launches nFUZION-8U/CHS CompactPCI Sun SPARC Compute Farm Server

New USB Matrix KVM Switch Enables Eight Users to Simultaneously Control Up to 32 USB-Enabled Computers

HP Superdome Server Shatters Java Performance Benchmark Record

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Nibble Re: When the Bean Counters Can't be Trusted Any More

from STORAGEsearch.com

As if we didn't have enough financial scandals already in the stock market. Enron, Worldcom and now we hear that blue chip pharmaceuticals company Merck may have counted $14B of revenue which it didn't really bill. Unfortunately the fallout from these accounting irregularities has hit all kinds of companies.

On July 8th when Intel announced that it was shipping its newest Itanium 2 processor in volume, which you would have thought was a good thing, its share price actually dropped 5%.

Ouch!

Now overstating things to make them look better only works until someone takes the time to look carefully. In my youth I can remember having many interesting discussions with some memory board suppliers whose bus interface speed was only about a third of what they claimed, and on the other hand being pleasantly surprised by some disk drives which were actually faster than suggested in their spec sheets. (It may have helped I was in a beta test site for a new very fast disk controller card at the time. Faster than the disk manufacturer had in mind when they specced their product.)

But here's a worrying thought... What would happen if the malaise which has infected the financial reporting community started to work its way down into the other markets, like gulp! - storage?

How do you know that the RAID system you've got really has got as much capacity as claimed? It should be easy enough to check by writing some simple code, but with everyone being so busy nowadays who really does have time to check all these little details?

How do you know that the UPS in your SAN really is rated for 4 hours, and that the manufacturer hasn't cut corners by leaving out a few batteries?

Last year Sun Microsystems got stung by applying some short cuts and omitting to put ECC checks into a cache controller for its high end processors. That problem cost them and their customers plenty. It shouldn't have mattered if everything worked as per the simulations, but it did matter in real-life because some of the memory devices had a susceptibility to alpha particles and sometimes flipped a bit. That old alpha particle problem hadn't been seen in the industry for about 20 years but nevertheless the ECC would have fixed it. The result? IBM sold a lot more mainframes than expected that year, and Sun lost its reputation for reliable crash proof systems.

As we move even further down the food chain what would happen if a manufacturer of GBICs were tempted to change their testing regime to increase the yield which passed noise and jitter tests? That could be a way to make more money. Users wouldn't lose out too much because their SAN protocols would just redeliver the data if it didn't look right first time. There might be a speed degradation. Not much to worry about there. Most systems don't run at full speed anyway. Who's to know?

Or a tape manufacturer, knowing that most people only do weekly backups, could specify a different coating from a cheaper source. Only problem... which wouldn't show for a year or so, is that the tape wouldn't last so long for the small percentage of users who do daily backups. By then who cares? The recession is over.

The scope for these kinds of bottom line "improvements" is massive in every field of life. Let's hope that the inflatable bean counters stay out of the storage market.

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SPARC Market Dollar Slide Against the British Pound Creates New Opportunities for US Exporters

Editor - July 3, 2002 - The strength of the dollar has been sliding down gently against European currencies recently, and yesterday we reached a rate of US$1.53 to one British Pound. That's a rate we haven't seen since May 2000.

The reason that's significant, is that today's level is about 7% below the peak level during the last 2 years and there's every possibility that the rate may continue heading in the direction of $1.60.

While that's bad news for anyone in the US planning on a European vacation (the weather this summer has been mostly wet and cold by the way) it's good news for US companies looking to find new international customers. It's also good news for buyers in the UK and Europe who can expect to make worthwhile cost savings (compared to the padded official pricing from Sun Microsystems which will be slow to react to these changes.)

UK buyers can count on making savings which are even bigger than usual by contacting many of the UK VARs listed on this site who import direct from the states, or even, if they're feeling more confident about the customs process, by going directly to US VARs - which we know that some of our UK readers, looking for bargains, already do.

When these kinds of currency fluctuations occur as fast as they have been doing in recent days, there are always winners and losers. But the effects for most US vendors, and UK buyers should be beneficial.
I-Bus/Phoenix
. The IBP designed and manufactured 8U, PICMG 2.16 compliant CompactPCI enclosure features Solaris 8 Operating System support, an 8+8+2-slot split backplane, and from 2 to 16 IBC2400 Ultra Sparc IIe long life cycle Single Board Computers for maximum OEM project life. Also included are two industry standard PICMG 2.16 Layer 3 managed switches for advanced network functionality and four, 200W Hot-swap DC power supplies (500W N+1). Additional features include an optional IBP Fully IPMI compliant System Management Controller and Baseboard Management Controller/ Peripheral Management Controller with SNMP software options.
I-Bus/Phoenix Launches nFUZION-8U/CHS CompactPCI Sun SPARC Compute Farm Server

Tangmere, UK - July 02, 2002 - I-Bus/Phoenix (IBP) has now added a powerful Sun SPARC offering to its family of high reliability 8U application ready compute farm platforms to meet the stringent space and environmental demands of network core, cable head end, telecom central office, wireless remote base station and densely packed data centres. The nFUZION-8U/CHS, CompactPCI Ultra SPARC IIe NEBS Compute Farm platforms outperform typical 12-15U server farm systems, making them ideal as highly scalable, high density, high performance blade server farms, render farms, video on demand platforms and voice services platforms for many applications.

The I-Bus/Phoenix commitment to premier technology collaborations is inherent in the nFUZION-8U/CHS. Engineers have qualified the Continuous Computing UpSuite cluster middleware package as an option with the nFUZION-8U/CHS blade server. UpSuite provides sub-second application failover as well as advanced IP based disk and memory state replication. Together, I-Bus/Phoenix and Continuous Computing provide the optimum High Availability software and hardware for truly mission critical applications.

Like all FUZION platforms, the nFUZION-8U/CHS range is backed by IBP global sales, support, manufacturing and agency approvals, in addition to OEM revision control.

General availability, with full options will be from August 2002 along with the IBP Compute Farm Early Access Program that began in May. A new 64 page catalogue, available in English, French and German, featuring the FUZION range, peripherals and customisation service is now available. ...I-Bus/Phoenix profile
Network Technologies New USB Matrix KVM Switch Enables Eight Users to Simultaneously Control Up to 32 USB-Enabled Computers

AURORA, OH - July 1, 2002 - Network Technologies Inc (NTI), the worldwide leader in networking solutions to multiple platforms, announced an addition to their popular line of USB KVM switches, the USB Matrix KVM Switch. The USB Matrix KVM Switch allows up to eight users to individually command or simultaneously share up to 32 USB-enabled computers using USB keyboards, USB mice and VGA monitors. This switch supports any USB-enhanced computer, including the following:
  • SUN Blade 100, 1000, SUN Ray and Sun Fire 280R™. SUN extra keys are emulated on USB keyboards with Windows keyboard layouts.
  • PCs with USB ports
  • MAC G3/G4. Supports Mac soft (keyboard) power-on capability.
The USB Matrix KVM Switch features NTI's patented USB electronic autoboot technology, allowing users to boot all attached computers in one operation. (Other USB KVM switches require individual, sequential boot-up.) USB host computers and USB devices can be hot-plugged or removed at any time, and the switch can be powered-down without having to reboot the attached computers.

Prices range from $1,200 to $9,995, and the ST-nXm-USBV-U USB Matrix KVM Switch is immediately available. ...Network Technologies profile
HP HP Superdome Server Shatters Java Performance Benchmark Record

PALO ALTO, Calif. - July 1, 2002 - HP today announced it has achieved world-record performance for Java applications on the SPECjbb2000 benchmark. The 64-way HP Superdome server with the newly announced PA-8700+ processor secured the world's best SPECjbb200 result submitted to date, scoring 614,538 Java applications per second and beating a 104-way Sun Starfire 15K.

This result also is 80% better than IBM's p690 server, showcasing the superior power and scalability of HP's 64-way system for Java applications. ...HP profile

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