CPI Live: High-performance computing clusters riding on the power of x86 platforms are slicing into the mainstream.
Read this example: A new prime brokerage providing trading, financing, portfolio analysis, and reporting for multibillion-dollar hedge funds, needed a competitive edge. Its larger rivals had the advantage of expensive mainframes that could consolidate and analyse millions of trades each day and return reports via batch processing the next morning that measured performance on a monthly basis. So to keep up, this company opted to outclass its competitors by returning trade performance information in near real time with performance measured on a daily basis and performance attribution on multiple levels, including in comparison to other securities in a market sector, numerous benchmarks, and other traders in the firm. What’s more, it did it using an inexpensive computer cluster made up of four dual-processor servers.
This story is a perfect case of where the HPC (high-performance computing) market stands today. Multimillion-dollar systems from Cray, Fujitsu, IBM, and NEC are rapidly giving way to clusters or grids of inexpensive x86 servers from mainstream vendors such as Dell, HP and IBM.
"The HPC market has been turned on its ear," says Earl Joseph, Research VP for high-performance systems at IDC. "Cray, NEC, and Fujitsu now make up less than 1%, while HP and IBM are at about 31% each, with Sun at 15% and Dell at 8.5%."