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Intel buys Cray's interconnect business

AMD's most visible HPC customer sells out to Intel
Wed Apr 25 2012, 13:32

SUPERCOMPUTER VENDOR Cray has sold its interconnect business to Intel, just months after AMD bought Seamicro for its interconnect technology.

Cray, a legendary name in the world of supercomputers and recently one of AMD's most high profile Opteron customers, has sold its interconnect business to Intel for $140m in cash. Cray said it signed a definitive agreement with Intel for its interconnect development program and related patents.

Although Cray has sold its interconnect business, the firm said it will continue to work on its current products including the Cascade supercomputer cluster range. The firm also said it will have the chance use technologies that Intel develops using its interconnect to differentiate Cray products, something AMD won't be particularly happy to hear.

Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray said, "By broadening our relationship with Intel, we are positioned to further penetrate the HPC [high performance computing] market and expand on our industry-leading technologies in support of our Adaptive Supercomputing vision. Our product roadmap remains intact as we continue to build the highly differentiated, tightly integrated supercomputers that our customers have come to expect from Cray."

Intel was generally thought to have missed out on Seamicro after AMD swooped in to buy the highly-rated upstart, however a source close to the matter told The INQUIRER that Intel's deal with Cray had been in the works for a while and that it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction to AMD's purchase of Seamicro.

Intel has been extremely successful in the HPC market through its Xeon server chips. However the industry needs to work on improving the performance of interconnects, the apparatus that connects processors and nodes together in a cluster, in order to achieve exascale levels.

As part of the Cray-Intel deal 74 Cray employees will transfer to Intel, while Cray has retained certain rights to use the technology it sold to Intel. Cray said it expects the deal to conclude before the end of the current financial quarter.

Cray's deal with Intel will only strengthen its relationship with the chipmaker and it could squeeze AMD out. Although AMD has said HPC accounts for very little of its business, getting big systems in the Top 500 supercomputers list provides a useful showcase to win other, less glamorous HPC business. µ


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