Cray broadens supercomputing portfolio

Cray Inc., manufacturer of supercomputers for various government agencies, said it will acquire privately held OctigaBay Systems Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia. The transaction is valued at approximately $115 million, the company said.

According to Seattle-based Cray, the acquisition of OctigaBay will grow its potential market by a factor of four. OctigaBay has been developing a high-performance computing system for scientific and technical computing users.

"OctigaBay's product is designed with the same philosophy [as ours], yet targeted at a different market segment," said Jim Rottsolk, chief executive officer at Cray.

Previewed in November 2003, the OctigaBay 12K has an architecture that embeds both a high-speed interconnect and application accelerators in order to remove bottlenecks. The result, according to OctigaBay, is improved performance on real-world applications. The system's self-monitoring, self-healing and management features make it more reliable and easier to use than other systems, the company said.

Early shipments of the OctigaBay product are expected in the second half of 2004, with general availability in early 2005. Pricing will be announced later this year but is expected to range from under $100,000 to about $2 million.

"The combined company has the potential to extend Cray's custom high-bandwidth designs into the departmental and divisional market segments, by providing innovative higher-performance interconnect capability without the traditional high price tag," said Earl Joseph, vice president of workstations and high-performance systems at Framingham, Mass.-based researcher IDC. "The combination of the two companies' product lines and the announcement in the fall of commercializing the Red Storm product allows Cray to address a [bigger] market.'

Red Storm is a system Cray is building at Sandia National Laboratory, an Energy Department facility in Albuquerque, N.M. Cray was awarded a $90 million contract to perform the work.

Red Storm will combine Cray's high-speed interconnect technology with commodity processors from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Using commodity processors is a departure for Cray, which traditionally uses custom vector processors in its supercomputers. Cray still makes vector-based supercomputers, including the X1, which is in uses at agencies such as the Army High Performance Computing Research Center.

"We have been working very closely with both Cray and OctigaBay. Their solutions provide differentiated, highly innovative, and high-bandwidth architectures that fully exploit the advanced capabilities of AMD64 technology," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit.

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