NCube Corp and Oracle Corp finally got together last week to launch the NCube 2 Scalar Supercomputer running Unix System V.3, and a parallel version of the Oracle relational database – once it is ready (CI No 1,202). With a user interface provided by Sun-3 and -4 workstations, the NCube 2 is seen as giving […]
NCube Corp and Oracle Corp finally got together last week to launch the NCube 2 Scalar Supercomputer running Unix System V.3, and a parallel version of the Oracle relational database – once it is ready (CI No 1,202). With a user interface provided by Sun-3 and -4 workstations, the NCube 2 is seen as giving a much-needed boost to the US supercomputer industry, which has recently come under heavy competition from the Japanese giants although one has to make horses for courses caveats: raw performance way up in the Crayosphere does not mean that users can wheel out a Cray and install a massively parallel machine and hope to carry on where they left off. And, breaking with supercomputing tradition, the NCube 2 is being aimed primarily at the commercial data processing environment, particularly financial institutions and government, as well as the more traditional technical and scientific environment. The building block for the NCube systems is a VSLI single-chip 64-bit processor integrated with an error-correcting memory management unit, message routing hardware and input-output processors. The NCube 2 can be fitted with up to 8,192 of the chips – each with 64Mb of dedicated memory – providing up to 60,000 MIPS and 27,000 GFLOPS performance if only all 8,192 of them could be persuaded to go bang at the same time, and is claimed to drive applications up to three times faster than the most powerful supercomputer – 300 times faster than top of IBM’s 3090 mainframe range. First deliveries of the NCube 2 are set for next month with prices starting at $500,000 for an entry level 64-processor model, rising to $2m plus for a machine with thousands of processors. Oracle’s Parallel Server Architecture will enable multiple copies of the database to run simultaneously on the NCube 2, taking advantage of its internal network of hypercube communication paths. It will be accessed directly from the NCube or from smaller systems connected via Ethernet and TCP/IP, and will be available on the NCube machines from the first quarter of next year. Other interfaces are also planned for later in 1990, allowing access from other architectures such as IBM mainframes and DEC minis. Arrow Computer Systems, Epsom, Surrey, which currently sells NCube kit into Europe and the UK is to introduce the NCube 2 as soeNBas it is available, although pricing for the UK has yet to be determined. At present there are around 20 European sites using existing NCube systems.