Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, January 29, 2022

SRC Enters Commercial Hyperscale Space with Saturn 1 Server 

Saturn 1 Cartridge, Top Side

A long-time staple in the world of defense contracting computing, SRC Computers today made its first foray into the commercial space with the introduction of a hyperscale server.

Named after Seymour R. Cray, SRC Computers has been selling systems to defense and intelligence customers since 2002. Over that time, the company saw scaling hundreds of thousands of x86 servers, said David Eaton, vice president of sales and marketing at SRC Computers, in an interview. Yet these vast collections of Intel-based servers generated huge amounts of heat and took up a lot of expensive space, he said.

Looking to address organizations' need for high performance with a small footprint and low power demand, SRC's eighth-generation Saturn 1 Server is a dynamically reconfigurable server for hyperscale datacenters and web operations. The server delivers compute performance 100 times faster than that of traditional x86 microprocessor designs, according to SRC, due to its design.

It eliminates latency, for example, because the Saturn 1 is an autonomous server, not a PCI accelerator card. SRC's compiler Carte converts the developer's code to a silicon design that can be changed on a subroutine basis, further speeding the process. Organizations can retain their existing applications, Eaton said.

"A customer can take our Carta software development platform, move that algorithm over and do that work once – it takes days to a small number of weeks – and move it to say 100 Saturn processors instead of 10,000 x86-based. They're not just preserving that investment. They're enhancing it," he said.

SRC partnered with HP to use its Moonshot system chassis.

Saturn 1 relies extensively on FPGAs, but allows programmers to use the languages and tooling they're already familiar with, according to SRC. Programmers can use C, for example, to program on a Saturn 1 Server, said Eaton.

"A developer who's competent at a high-level language like C … within in a few hours they'll have major sections of that code running orders of magnitude faster.

You learn some new techniques; it opens up some possibilities that you can't do on an x86 platform," he said. "We can support multiple, different high level languages. As a language gets higher and higher, more general and more general, you start to reduce the performance of the underlying code. I use C as the example because that's the number one language out there. That's the heavy lifting, the high performance code, that's what they want: C."

Organizations not only save time, space, and money; they also open themselves to new opportunities, according to SRC. That was the case for early adopter Jingit, which works with retailers, brands, and loyalty programs. The company needed to figure out how to make its platform perform 100 times more business logic than a credit authorization in microseconds; with Saturn 1 and FPGA, Jingit now can locate a variety of deals – loyalty programs, brand coupons, store offers, and other promotions – within split seconds.

"Our first reaction was pure astonishment when we saw our transaction stream processing performance measured in nanoseconds," said Todd Rooke, co-founder of Jingit in a statement. "Jingit achieved more than 500 times performance increase with the new SRC FPGA architecture."

The Saturn 1 Server costs $19,950, and is available through SRC and resellers, including Parallel Computing Solutions, which is offering an SRC boot camp. Volume discounts are available.

 

 

 

 

About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.

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