Here’s the product page. It should certainly look very familiar to my ex-SiCortex readers, and some of the commentary from James Hamilton even more so.

Four of these modules will . . . deliver more work done joule, work done per dollar, and more work done per rack than the more standard approaches currently on the market.

Short version: up to 512 servers in 10U, each a 1.6GHz Atom processor with 2GB (non-ECC) memory, connected in a three-dimensional torus with 1.2Tb/s aggregate bandwidth, and virtualized I/O. Computationally it’s a bit denser than the SiCortex systems at 3.3e12 instructions/sec in a rack vs. 4.1e12 in an SC5832 which was two racks wide and deeper as well. In terms of power the density is about the same – 2kW/unit or 8kW/rack vs. 20kW for the SC5832. 1.2Tb/s works out to only 20Gb/s per eight-processor board (vs. 48Gb/s per processor for the SC5832) and with that topology the average hop count for the 128-node box is likely to be higher than for the entire SC5832 (with no mention of a way to connect that fabric across all four boxes in a rack) so for communication-intensive workloads it’s likely to run into a few problems. On the other hand, the SeaMicro I/O virtualization seems a bit more robust than what we had. Sure, we had scethernet, but that was emulation rather than virtualization (we explicitly avoided the “virtual NIC” approach) and we had nothing similar for storage. And of course it’s x86, so all the n00bs who can’t comprehend there even being another architecture with different performance tradeoffs can just plop their code on it and go. That plus the I/O virtualization might mean that even things like operating systems can run unaware that this is something physically different than what they’re used to.

Overall, there might be a few areas (especially interconnect) where the SM10K might seem less sexy than the SC5832 was, but there are also some (I/O virtualization) where it takes things a bit further and it’s clearly better positioned for adoption by a much larger target market. It’s a very interesting and welcome development. It will be particularly interesting to see how things play out between them and Smooth Stone with their ARM-based architecture.

If anybody from either of those companies is reading this, and looking for a parallel/distributed filesystem (or other data store) to run on such systems, let me know. I might be able to help. ;)