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May 7, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Cray unveils air-cooled, budget supercomputer

Seattle supercomputer maker Cray is expanding its lineup of “entry level” supercomputers that cost only slightly more than a house.

Cray XC30-AC image 1 (2)

Cray today is announcing the XC30-AC, an air-cooled system that starts at $500,000. It’s aimed at customers in fields such as life sciences, manufacturing, financial services and energy.

“There are many Fortune 1000 companies, and even departments within Fortune 100 companies, with a growing need for a supercomputing system that provides a critical tool for taking advantage of performing complex simulations,” Cray Senior Vice President Peg Williams said in a release.

Expanding the lineup gives Cray access to a much larger market, Chief Executive Peter Ungaro said. The market for high-end systems is $1 billion, while the market for entry-level supercomputers priced at $500,000 to $3 million range is three times larger, he said.

“It’s something that I feel is going to be another piece of growing Cray into the future,” he said in an interview.

Cray said in its release that it has already sold XC30-AC systems to a global financial services company and a consumer electronics company, but it wouldn’t disclose the customers’ identity.

The XC30-AC is a more flexible version of the company’s existing XC30 systems, which launched last November and provide up to 66 teraflops of performance per system cabinet, with each cabinet housing up to 3,072 processors.

The “AC” systems are air-cooled — they don’t require liquid coolants — and fit in a smaller cabinet with a single fan. Cray said they offer lower network costs without the need for optical cables and can be run with less power — either 480 or 208 volts.

Cray is announcing the new system at the Cray Users Group meeting taking place this week in Napa Valley, Calif.

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