Hardware and clustering company Linux Networx has launched a new range of Linux machines. Its LS Series contains two families: the midrange LS-1 Supersystem and the high-end LS/X supercomputer.

The company is using "supersystem" to describe the midrange machine, because when many people hear the word "supercomputer," they typically associate it with a device with a million dollar price tag, according to Ben Passarelli, vice president of product marketing at Linux Networx. The LS-1 is designed so that much of the integration work involved in setting up cluster computing is done at the factory so users don't have to spend as much time on the task.

The LS-1 and LS/X are powered by AMD's Opteron processors. Linux Networx does plan to have an Intel Corp. version of the machine once the chip giant comes out next year with its Dempsey processor for two-socket servers, according to Passarelli.

The LS-1 is available in a desk-side model and a rack version as well as with a variety of different interconnects, he said. A desk-side LS-1 with 16 CPUs (central processing units) will cost around US$40,000, while an LS-1 with 64 processors will be priced about the $130,000 mark, Passarelli said. The system can scale up to 128 nodes, he added, and will be generally available in the first quarter of next year.

Linux Networx is making pretested subsystem modules for the LS-1 available in a number of areas including visualization, data storage and application acceleration, according to Passarelli. The company is currently working on Memphis, co-accelerators for a variety of hardware functions, including a floating-point accelerator (FPA), that are due to appear sometime in the first half of 2006, he said.

As for the LS/X, which has been under development at Linux Networx for the past two years, "We're aiming for extreme performance," Passarelli said. The supercomputer can scale up to 6,144 nodes and uses InfiniPath input/output technology from PathScale Inc. Linux Networx has developed an integrated switch infrastructure that improves the system's resilience and substantially cuts down on its cabling requirements by as much as 70 percent, he added. The LS/X will also become generally available in the first quarter of 2006.

Linux Networx was very pleased with its ranking on the Top500 twice-yearly list of the fastest supercomputers in the world, which was announced at the conference Monday, according to Passarelli. The company has 16 systems in the current list or 3.2 percent market share as compared with only five systems or a one percent share on June's list.

"We're right there with Cray and SGI," Passarelli said, in terms of market share. Both Cray and Silicon Graphics had 18 systems listed on the November Top500 list, equivalent to them each having a 3.6 percent market share.