The Latest from the High-Tech World

Monarch ships dual-core Opteron machines; the Cell processor goes open source; and XAMPP makes a better LAMP.

The Flight of the Monarch

Monarch Computer has announced the addition of dual-core AMD Opteron processors to its Empro line of servers and workstations. The new Opteron-powered Empro computers (pictured at right) can now scale up to four-processor, eight-core configurations; moreover, many Empro customers can upgrade to double the number of cores in existing systems.

Monarch’ s dual-core servers feature high-density RAID arrays larger than four terabytes with Adaptec and 3-Ware RAID controllers, and hard drives from Western Digital, Maxtor, and Hitachi. Monarch two-processor, Opteron servers support up to 16 GB of DDR memory, while the four-processor Empro servers support up to 32 GB of DDR memory. Monarch Empro dual-core workstations support up to four monitors using up to two PCI-E video cards from NVidia and ATI. New Empro workstations support from 512 MB up to 16 GB of DDR memory and storage options from 40 GB to over 1 TB. A dual-core Opteron performs on average 75 percent better than Intel Xeon MP on certain enterprise applications while using 30 percent less power per CPU.
The new dual-core Opteron Empro systems are on sale now. The four-CPU, eight-core 3U rack server starts at $5,822.00. The same system is also available in a 2U form factor. Visit http://monarchcomputer.com for more information.

Cell Looks for Mates

According to IBM, Toshiba, and Sony, the three companies that developed the Cell processor, full specifications of the Cell chip and an entire suite of software libraries will soon be available to all hardware and open source developers. Licensing terms have not yet been finalized, but the intent is to release the hardware designs to allow others to build Cell-based solutions and to release the Cell software as open source to promote development for the multicore chip. The companies hope to encourage adoption of Cell in a variety of devices.
Cell can be used in a wide variety of applications, including video processing, medical imaging, and high-performance computing. The current Cell runs at speeds topping 4 GHz, is capable of 256 billion calculations per second, and includes nine cores consisting of a custom, general purpose PowerPC processor core and eight” synergistic processing elements” (SPE’s) though a central bus called the element interface bus (EIS).

While IBM is fabricating the Cell, it has no plans to use the chip in its own systems, although it may leverage its design in other processors. Toshiba has plans to use the chip in a future television set, and to license the chip’s design to other manufacturers. Sony has famously demonstrated the Cell running its in Playstation 3 game console (http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId= 3140617).

A Brighter LAMP: XAMPP

If you’ve ever tried to build the” AMP” (Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl) portion of” LAMP,” you’ve no doubt been frustrated by each package’s legion of ./configure options. Indeed, chances are that even if you’re the most-skilled developer or system administrator, one or more of those packages won’t work in the end.

The ApacheFriends commiserate and offer a calming salve: XAMPP. XAMPP (//http://sourceforge.net/projects/xampp/) combines Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, and additional tools into one simple install. Just download, extract, and launch! No pain, much gain.
XAMPP is available for Linux, MacOS X, Solaris, and all variations of desktop and server Windows. Beyond the” AMP” components, the Linux distribution of XAMPP includes a whopping number of invaluable packages, including PEAR, ProFTPD, phpMyAdmin, OpenSSL, GD, Freetype2, libjpeg, libpng, gdbm, zlib, expat, Sablotron, libxml, Ming, Webalizer, pdf class, ncurses, mod_perl, FreeTDS, gettext, mcrypt, mhash, Turck MMCache, SQLite, and IMAP C-Client. And, of course, XAMPP is free!
One caveat: the default XAMPP configuration is not secure. However, you can run a small XAMPP utility provided with the download to address that problem.
Switch off LAMP and turn on XAMPP.

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