"It slices, dices, chops, and peels!"
Well not really, but the SGI Altix UV 1000, fully configured and freshly certified by Microsoft, can be partitioned to hold multiple physical instances of Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition, each instance of which can run multiple VMs on Microsoft Hypervisor, making the Altix UV 1000 a potential Windows Azure Cloud in a box solution.
The box itself is capable of supporting up to a maximum of 2048 cores and 16 TB of main memory; Windows Server Datacenter Edition is only capable of supporting up to 1 TB of memory and 128 cores, hence the need to use hardware partitioning to get the most out of the box. A report in The Register quoted Sunny Sundstrom, director of product marketing at SGI, as saying that SGI and Microsoft are working on a certification of the Microsoft OS that will be able to span 256 cores and 2TB of memory.
Given the trend with in-memory database servers, that could be a significant hardware advantage for SGI, when compared with other Windows Server implementations. It should be noted that this certification from Microsoft means it's a standard version of Windows Server 2008 TR2; there are no special changes or tweaks for Windows Server applications to run in this configuration. So customers who find that they are hardware bound in their current server implementations will have the opportunity to move to a much more capable platform, without the need to touch any custom .NET coding or any of their existing applications already running on Windows Server 2008 R2.
It's interesting to see the impact of the cloud on this type of technology. There was a time when an announcement for a "supercomputer" class system would have been accompanied by a host of benchmark results with the crowning glory being something certified by the Transaction Processing Performance Council benchmark. SGI states that benchmark data with Windows Server and SQL Server will be forthcoming, but the mindset for this type of hardware is now much more forward focused, with the cachet of cloud computing being more of a hook for the attention of potential purchases.