Very large multiprocessor systems have traditionally been breathtakingly expensive propositions, and they've arguably become more of a niche product as commodity 2P servers have added cores and capability over time. Some problems still require a Very Large Computer, though. A company called ScaleMP has cooked up an intriguing virtualization-based solution that allows a large SMP system to be built out of an array of inexpensive servers. Today, ScaleMP and AMD have announced a collaboration that allows Opterons to act as the building blocks for such virtual systems. From the press release:
Cupertino, Calif. – September 20, 2011 – ScaleMP, a leading provider of virtualization solutions for high-end computing, today announced a strategic collaboration with AMD for vSMP Foundation to support AMD OpteronTM processor-based servers. The collaboration enables users to scale AMD-based servers beyond four processors and create AMD Opteron processor-based systems with up to 512 processors and 64TB of memory . vSMP Foundation will support the current AMD Opteron 6100 Series processor as well as the upcoming AMD Opteron processors, code-named "Interlagos", leveraging the new x86 "Bulldozer" core.
So yes, up to 128 quad-socket servers can participate in one virtual system. ScaleMP says no custom hardware or chipset is required, yet "the vSMP architecture provides cache coherency, shared I/O and the system interfaces (BIOS, ACPI) , which are required by the OS." The interconnect of choice is Infiniband, as one might expect.
ScaleMP previously supported only Xeon processors, so this update brings the Opteron up to par with the competition on this front. We'll be sure to grab a rack full of Bulldozer boxes for some SPECjbb testing ASAP.