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Supercomputing and the art of the sales pitch

Supercomputers are wonderful things. Meaningful research gets done and geeks everywhere can drool over the specs like car buffs fawning over a vintage Corvette.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

Supercomputers are wonderful things. Meaningful research gets done and geeks everywhere can drool over the specs like car buffs fawning over a vintage Corvette. But there's also a subtle sales pitch, which explains why most large tech vendors play like IBM and HP play in the high-performance computing space.

The pitch was evident in Sun CEO's Jonathan's Schwartz's blog post on the National Science Foundation's supercomputing cloud naturally powered by Sun. First, Schwartz delivers the eye candy (and there's a lot of it). Among the key stats:

  • 6,000 square feet datacenter space consuming less than 3 Megawatts...
  • More than 4000 quad core Sun/Opteron blades, 120+ Tb of DRAM, running CentOS
  • More than 500 teraflops computing capacity
  • Jobs scheduled by Sun's Grid Engine Interconnected by two, 100 terabit non-blocking Magnum switches
  • Data managed by the Lustre file system, on Thumpers
  • More than 2 petabytes of storage

Pretty neat eh? But it's hard to miss the sales pitch. Schwartz notes that Sun can replicate what it has done for the National Science Foundation for other installations in government and the private sector. You find this pitch in other high performance computing announcements too. I don't mind these thinly veiled sales pitches since the jaw-dropping specs are worth it.

But I do wonder if these supercomputing efforts effectively drive sales. The big question: Do these supercomputing initiatives actually close deals? Have any of you been swayed by supercomputing deals when shopping for a data center vendor?

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