Orion Multisystems introduced two new workstations using clustered processors. The Orion Cluster Workstation will come in two models, a desktop with 12 processors, priced at about $10,000, and a tower with 96 processors, priced at $100,000.

Delivering the power of back-end cluster computing to the desktop, start-up firm Orion Multisystems has announced two models of the Orion Cluster Workstation.

The desk-side and desktop machines offer a high-performance computing platform that can be plugged into a wall outlet and used in an office or laboratory environment. Orion has targeted the data-crunching engineering, scientific, financial and creative fields with the new cluster workstations.

Scaled-Down Supercomputing

A cluster is a relatively new approach to supercomputing that uses parallel processing, which allows many calculations to run at the same time on separate processors. Using this approach, a collection of processors can do the work of a multimillion-dollarsupercomputer Latest News about supercomputer.

A side effect of cluster computing is that since individual processors do not have to be all that fast, they do not have to be all that expensive.

Orion's systems use a single system board comprising 12 nodes for the desktop model, while the desk-side model can scale up to 96 nodes using eight interconnected, stacked boards.

In essence, the company has harnessed the power of a dozen computers in a single unit with the desktop machine and up to 96 computers with the desk-side offering.

Leap Forward

"Cluster computers typically take up a lot of space and require a lot of power, but we have demonstrated that clustering can be used in any type ofPC Latest News about PC to deliver much better performance," Orion spokesperson Phillip Bergman told NewsFactor. "This is a significant leap forward in personal computing."

Orion Cluster Workstations use the open-source Linux operating system and are powered by Transmeta's Efficeon processors. The desktop model measures 18.4 x 24 x 3.8 inches; the desk-side machine is 25 x 17 x 27 inches.

The desk-side unit delivers 300 gigaflops (Gflops) peak performance (150 Gflops sustained), up to 192 gigabytes of memory and up to 9.6 terabytes of storage. Orion's desktopworkstation Latest News about Workstations offers 36 Gflops peak performance (18 Gflops sustained), up to 24 gigabytes of DDR SDRAM memory and up to 1 terabyte of internal disk storage.

Research Tool

Transmeta's low-wattage Efficeon processor Latest News about Processors, designed for the mobile and wireless Latest News about wireless markets, requires no active cooling and has a small footprint that enables the creation of small-scale clusters.

These new machines are not for the typical computer user, Bergman said, explaining that they are expected to draw an audience among scientists and other researches, along with those in the creative arts. Among those using the technology is a brain-research institute at the University of California, he said.

The desktop model is priced at about US$10,000 and will be available in October. The desk-side model is priced at about $100,000 and will be available by the end of the year.

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