Silicon Graphics (SGI) is to offer Windows Compute Cluster Server (CCS) 2003 on its Altix XE cluster servers that are powered by dual-core and quad-core Intel Xeon processors.

Cluster computing involves linking multiple desktop computers and servers, combining their processing power to create one high-performance computing system.

Running Windows on the client computers and the servers makes for a more efficient and seamless system, said David Parry, senior vice president and product general manager for SGI.

"This will go a long way toward bridging the gap between the desktop running Windows and the data centre running on Linux or Unix," Parry said.

CCS 2003 will be available from SGI beginning in March for a list price of US$3,500 per server.

Also on Thursday, SGI introduced two new servers that will begin shipping in the first quarter.

The Altix X E310 features a new motherboard design, named "Atoka" and co-developed by SGI and Intel, that accommodates as many as four Intel quad-core Xeon 5300 processors in a single chassis. The E310 carries a list price of less than $3,100.

The Altix XE 1300 cluster server combines several XE 310 nodes with an Altix XE240 head node in a preconfigured hardware package.

"This is part of a larger strategy for SGI making it overall more relevant and useful in high-performance computing and to our customers," Parry said.

Although SGI has long made high-end computers used in highly technical or scientific environments, high-performance computing is now being embraced by users in other enterprises and commercial businesses. SGI thinks it can better target the high-performance computing market with the Windows operating system.

SGI sees prospects for HPC in the fields of media data management, industrial design such as automotive and aerospace, and government and academia.

SGI developed this new strategy as it went through financial reorganization. The company filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in May 2006. As part of a reorganisation, the company laid off 250 employees, or 12 percent of its work force, and converted debt into equity for its bond-holders to reduce its debt by $250 million.