Altix 330

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Altix 330 Base Compute Module
Altix 330 front panel illustration

This page captures information specific to the Altix 330 model. Please see the Altix series overview page for information about other models.

SGI announced the Altix 330 model in July 2005. This model was an entry-level server for the Altix 3000 generation of HPC systems, expected to hit a sub-US$7,000 entry point. It offered a relatively affordable and compact, standalone 1U server that was software compatible with the rest of the Itanium-based Altix family. And like the SGI servers before and after, it was possible to scale the Altix 330 up to meet many different workloads.


System Architecture

The Altix 330 implements the IP5x processor, but conforms to the IP41 architecture from the earlier Altix 3000 systems. These systems are built up by selecting different types of modules or "bricks" to support the target workload(s).

Note that CPU speeds must be matched within a given brick, but bricks containing different speed CPUs can be connected to each other when building or upgrading a system.

Brick or Module Types

Like many SGI servers starting with the Origin 3000, an Altix 330 system could built out of several different types of modules. These modules were also referred to as bricks - frequently in official SGI documentation, though this usage varied from year to year and model to model.

The Altix 330 offered four documented types of modules:

  • Base Compute Module
  • Compute Expansion Module
  • NUMAlink Router
  • PA Module

Each of these ran on standard 110/220V AC power. Different storage components were often included in system configurations.

Base Compute Module

The BCM is a 1U rackmount server featuring one or two Itanium 2 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, up to two internal hard drives, an optical drive, and a single expansion slot. The BCM incorporates a single power supply rated at 490 Watts.

CPU Options

The Altix 330 has been offered with a variety of Itanium 2 processors, as shown in this table:

Clock Speed L3 Cache Size
1.3 GHz * 3.0 MB
1.5 GHz 4.0 MB
1.6 GHz 6.0 MB

Each Altix 330 BCM will accommodate one or two Itanium 2 processors of the same type. However the 1.3 GHz processors were only offered in a single module, standalone configuration.

Memory Subsystem

The Altix 330 supports registered DDR DIMMs with ECC, rated at 266MHz or faster, which are commonly referred to as PC2100, PC2700, etc. Memory throughput was claimed to peak at 10.8 GB/second.

Main memory is organized into two banks of four DIMMs each, or eight slots total, providing up to 16GB of RAM per BCM. DIMMs of 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB are officially supported; it is unclear as of this writing if 4GB parts will work.

I/O Subsystem

Each base module includes the following:

  • One full-size 64-bit 133MHz 3.3V PCI-X slot
  • Two Gigiabit Ethernet ports
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • One external SAS/SATA2 port
  • One NUMAlink port
  • L1 USB Type B connector

Each module can incorporate the following mass storage options:

  • One or two SAS/SATA drives
  • One DVD-ROM drive (IDE)
System Console and L2 Controller

The Altix 330 does not have a console serial port, and does not normally use an external L2 controller. Instead, when a suitable USB-to-Ethernet adapter is connected to the L1 system controller on a Base Compute Module, that L1 controller becomes a hybrid L1/L2 controller for the system. After configuration the hybrid L1/L2 controller can be used to access the system console, or to control the system using the L3 software installed on a suitable Linux workstation.

Details about configuring and accessing the L1/L2 controller and system console are detailed in the Altix 330 System Users Guide.

Note that the L1 controller on Altix 330 Router Modules may also include the ability to become a virtual L2 controller when supplied with a suitable USB-to-Ethernet adapter. See this Nekochan forum reply for details. (You will need to scroll down past two listings of POD output.)

Compute Expansion Module

The Compute Expansion Module offers additional processors, memory, and PCI/PCI-X capacity to the Altix 330 system. It does not include the network or mass storage capabilities of the Base Compute Module - otherwise, it is identical to the BCM.

PA Module

The PA Module offered greater PCI and PCI-X expansion options for the Altix 330 system. It is a 2U module similar in appearance to the grey 2U Altix 350/3x00 modules with an hexagonal recess around the LCD display on the front bezel.

The PA Module includes the following features:

  • Six PCI/PCI-X slots on four separate buses
  • An L1 controller with front-mounted LCD display
  • Two NUMAlink ports
  • One USB Type B connector for the L1 controller
  • One power supply

The PCI/PCI-X buses are organized as follows:

  • Bus 0 and 2 support one slot each
  • Bus 1 and 3 support two slots each

Each slot can operate at speeds up to 133 MHz.

Router Module

The NUMAlink Router allows configurations of three to eight Base Compute Modules. It is a 2U module similar in appearance to the grey 2U Altix 350/3x00 modules with an hexagonal recess around the LCD display on the front bezel.

The Router Module includes the following features:

  • Eight NUMAlink ports
  • An L1 controller with front-mounted LCD display
  • Two NUMAlink ports
  • One USB Type A connector for the L1 controller
  • One standard DB-9 serial port
  • One power supply

Each of the eight NUMAlink ports can be connected to a Base Compute, Compute Expansion, or PA Module.

Note that the L1 controller on the Router Modules may include the ability to become a virtual L2 controller when supplied with a USB-to-Ethernet adapter. See this Nekochan forum reply for details. (You will need to scroll down past two listings of POD output.)

Storage Components

The Altix 330 offered the InfiniteStorage S330 module as well as the TP900 module. The TP900 is a SCSI-attached JBOD enclosure.

The InfiniteStorage S330 is an 8 bay, fibre channel-attached enclosure with integrated RAID controller(s), redundant power supplies and SATA hard drives. It was claimed to be capable of 485 MB/second sustained throughput with a capacity of 2.8 to over 16TB.

Topologies

The simplest configuration is a single freestanding Base Compute Module. A single BCM can also be connected to a single PA Module

Two BCMs or one BCM and a CEM can be connected together with a single NUMAlink cable, expanding to a maximum of four processors and 32GB of RAM. Either of these configurations support a single PA Module, using the PA Module as a 2-port Router.

Further expansion requires a NUMAlink router. Each base module connects to the NUMAlink router in a star topology, with a maximum of eight modules. This provides a maximum configuration of 16 processors and 128GB of RAM. The use of a Router makes it possible to include up to two PA Modules.

SGI also offered Altix 330 compute modules in a loosely-coupled cluster configuration as the Altix 1330, using gigabit Ethernet or Infiniband as the cluster interconnect.


Add-On Options

Many PCI/PCI-X cards are available with support for Linux on Itanium.


Operating System Support

Linux

The Altix family was originally supported by SGI's Advanced Linux Environment, but eventually support was added to stock SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) or RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distributions for Itanium. As of mid-2013 SGI seems to only support SLES on any of their Itanium platforms, while both may be supported on their Xeon-based systems depending on model.

SGI offers the ProPack and SGI Foundation Software for Linux, which provides system management and performance monitoring tools beyond what ships with the base Linux distributions they support.

Troubleshooting and Repair

Replacement Parts

Further Reading

Wiki articles:

Forum Threads:

External References

SGI:

Other:

Press Releases