back to article Cray's found a super scooper, $1.3bn's gonna buy you. HPE's the one

HPE is buying supercomputing veteran Cray Inc for $1.3bn after a multi-year squeeze in the supers sector that culminated in "substantial loss" for the HPC-flinger at the start of 2019. The San Jose firm said it was looking to get in on the academia and government high performance computing markets. In a joint statement, the …

  1. Paul Herber Silver badge

    I do hope HPE pay a bit more attention to Cray's accounts than they did with Autonomy!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Damn, beat me to it.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I would hope it's the other way around, that Cray pays more attention to HPE. This is the end of era as Gray will get sucked up into HPE's ecosystem with much ending up outsourced and the company being bled dry.

    3. CheesyTheClown

      What about SGI?

      They bought SGI also... they finished up those contracts and what came next? Oh... SGI who?

  2. macjules Silver badge
    Pint

    HPE is buying supercomputing veteran Cray Inc for $1.3bn

    Does that make Cray only worth around the $200m mark then?

    Beer: it's Friday and I didn't mention Autonomy.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: HPE is buying supercomputing veteran Cray Inc for $1.3bn

      I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.

  3. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    SGI,...

    ... so back in the days of yore we had some SGI kit,... so the reference in this article sent me off to Wikipedia to recap what's happened while I've been out of touch. Now, the SGI 'Origin' series were pretty fricking beefy bits of kit back in the day, but I guess SGI had long hit their apogee by the time HP bought them.

    So this starts looking like HP is where tech brands goes to die, Compaq (who bought DEC), SGI,... now Cray.

    1. Jc (the real one)

      Re: SGI,...

      To be fair , it was Compaq that killed the DEC brand...long before HP bought Compaq

      Jc

      1. J. Cook Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: SGI,...

        Ah, the Compaq Curse, now known as the HPE curse.

        I was worried when Nimble announced they had been bought by HPE; those fears got realized this week when we had a power supply fail on one of our arrays, and it took *three days* for their automated system to acknowledge what happened, by which time I had manually opened a ticket, escalated it the next morning when it became obvious that no one was paying attention, got my vaunted 4 hour response and replacement supply that afternoon, and had shipped the bad supply back to them the next morning.

        Suffice to say, [RedactedCo]'s love affair with HPE Nimble is over. we are looking elsewhere for our next set of storage boxes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: SGI,...

          yeah HPE has gone out of their way to bastardize Infosight.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: SGI,...

          "Suffice to say, [RedactedCo]'s love affair with HPE Nimble is over. we are looking elsewhere for our next set of storage boxes."

          I'm a field engineer, and one of our contracts includes repairs to HP laptops and desktops. FFS, they make it difficult!! "Branding" an replacement HP system board is absolutely the worst job we ever have to do. It;s not just the usual Name, s/n, model, but a long and complex thing called a "feature byte". It's actually a lot of bytes, very precisely defining every last bit of hardware installed at the build stage. It means that changing or upgrading a PC after the warranty has expired almost impossible. Want to add some internal speakers to an AllInOne? Forget it. Fitting them is one thing, but getting the box to accept they are there is another matter.

      2. Tianshan

        Re: SGI,...

        DEC was a poisoning acquisition for Compaq as above. Silicon carrion in the form of an ossified, arrogant brand. Not a healthy acquisition.

        1. Any other name

          DEC (was Re: SGI,...)

          DEC was a poisoning acquisition for Compaq as above. Silicon carrion in the form of an ossified, arrogant brand. Not a healthy acquisition.

          We must have lived in different universes then. At the time Compaq gobbled Digital, Digital's Alpha AXP systems were plainly the best architecture for high-performance computing applications - in terms of the raw performance, the price per achievable flops, the toolchain support, and the hardware build quality.

          At about that time, I had some 100 of these beasties running in a self-built little cluster, which managed to beat some of national-level supercomputing centers on application performance - despite costing an order of magnitude less to buy and operate.

          In just a few years, Compaq managed to squanter that techical brilliance, while fully preserving and internalising the worst excesses of the Digital's management and sales styles. Quite a feat, if you ask me.

          1. TimTheEngineer

            Re: DEC (was SGI,...)

            ... and, WRT to this article in particular, cray built the T3D 7 T3E MPP systems using Alpha chips. TheT#E was a very successful, popular machine that SGI killed off.

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        it was Compaq that killed the DEC brand...

        Actually it was Bob <spit> Palmer.

        And Compaq killing Alpha was at the behest of HP, who wanted the misery that was the Industry Standard (harhar) Itanic to have some company instead of competition.

    2. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: SGI,...

      Of course, seeing as SGI owned Cray for a few years before selling them off, this does mean SGI and Cray being reunited again. Wonder if there are any staffers left at either side who were there for the original SGI/Cray link-up in the 90s...

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: SGI,...

        Yes, I thought I remembered hearing about SGI buying Cray, so that another company that had bought SGI having to still buy Cray separately surprised me. But I think I also remember for a while that there was a Cray and a Cray Research, which were two separate companies, so not knowing that SGI sold Cray off, I thought that might have something to do with it.

        1. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: SGI,...

          SGIs purchase of Cray was one of a long list of their mistakes that helped lead to their ultimate demise. The problem wasn't that they bought Cray, it was that they moved all Cray staff onto their own T&Cs (so most Cray staff received massive pay-rises - thus greatly impacting margin from SGI's new Cray division) and applied all the perks allowing time of service to mean you could get additional holidays - with no cap, so some senior Cray staff were eligible for many months of paid vacation per year. Flogging a Cray project that used SPARC to Sun for a bargain-basement price also didn't help as it gave Sun a very capable line of servers with which to compete with SGI.

          Then SGI, continued to keep Cray rather separated from the rest of the company. It's almost as if they were planning on selling Cray almost as soon as they'd bought them. If I recall, the only real long-term benefit to the Cray purchase for SGI was the development of NUMALink for high-speed linking of compute nodes. In the end, Cray was flogged by SGI after a few years (again for peanuts) and promptly outlived SGI by quite some time. SGI as a company was effectively dead back in 2009. The one that was bought by HPE a few years ago was actually the former Rackable Systems who bought SGIs assets and renamed themselves SGI following this.

          1. TimTheEngineer

            Re: SGI,...

            While it was fashionable to blame Cray for SGI's woes, SGI had actually had a couple of bad quarters before the acquisition and was already on a glide path because their classic market of 3D graphics systems and workstations was being consumed by the wintel boxes with graphic accelerators.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: SGI,...

        It's even weirder.

        1996: SGI and Cray merge, continue to use the SGI name.

        2000: SGI sells off the "Cray Research Division" to Tera, which renames itself Cray.

        2009: SGI goes bankrupt, is bought by Rackable. Rackable renames itself SGI.

        2016: HPE buys SGI (formerly Rackable, formerly SGI, formerly owners of Cray).

        2019: HPE buys Cray (formerly Tera, formerly part of SGI, formerly Cray).

        So, yeah, it's a reunion of sorts, but there have been several partners in the dance.

        And pre-96 SGI itself had a complicated history.

  4. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    HPE buying Cray

    Lets hope the merger doesn't result in something called Chreapy.

    Cray made some creative and effective changes in how computing was done, and in some cases blazed trails. HP in it's original incarnation did some of the same. I honestly hope that HPE doesn't turn Cray into a continuation of their current business model.

    1. Nick Kew
      Coat

      Re: HPE buying Cray

      It's a crayveyard of high-end hardware.

    2. luis river

      Re: HPE buying Cray

      NOt exactli !!! Meg Whitman and succasor bring new philosofal managerial to HPE. The thjghs are different, I dont doubt what HPE to respect absolute Cray way´s, I suspect that the Cray brand may live on in high-end machines, but perhaps not – and if that happens, that will be a pity. Cray means, and has always meant, supercomputing.

  5. Martipar

    Regarding the Cray 1

    How easy would it be to build a miniature working replica? I'd love a model Cray 1 i could put on a shelf but also plug it into some form of terminal and run original software on it.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: Regarding the Cray 1

      It's been done:

      https://www.chrisfenton.com/homebrew-cray-1a/

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Regarding the Cray 1

        That's pretty damned awesome, and a lot better than the current "make a case that looks like a retro machine that's large enough to hold a Pi and an emulator" thing.

  6. luis river

    CRAY emblematic enterprise

    Congratulations to Antonio Neri I Think that purchase is one good decision, CRAY emblematic american firm HPC.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: CRAY emblematic enterprise

      Yes, congratulations. Now Cray is going to emblematically be ground into fine powder and scattered in the wind of HPE's incompetence. Yay.

  7. CheesyTheClown

    So long Cray.. we’ll miss you

    So... what about the obvious implications that this leaves the US with only one supercomputer vendor? ugh

    I mean really, if Cray can’t manage to be a player with the US dumping exascale contracts on them... the US deserves to be screwed. The US government should have been dumping cash on SGI and Cray for years. Instead, they forced them into bidding wars against each other which allowed a non-super computer acquisitions and merged chip shop to suck them both up leaving the US without even one legitimate HPC vendor in 3-5 years.

    Do a search in SGI and find out what HPe has done since buying them... nothing. They ran what was left of them into the ground.

    What about Cray? Cray does a lot of cool things. Storage, interconnects, cooling, etc... at one time HP did this too. And if HPe didn’t suck at HPC, they wouldn’t need to buy Cray. They could actually compete head on. But, no... they have no idea what they’re doing.

    Want to see what’s left of HPe... google HPe research and show me even one project which doesn’t seem as interesting as Mamma June on the cover of Hustler?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So long Cray.. we’ll miss you

      HPCs have all gone industry standard - they are built out of Intel or AMD nodes (unless you really want to do something fancy with IBM Power!)

      Interconnects are 25-50-100GbE or Infiniband.

      There are plenty of air and liquid cooling options out there.

      The HPC money is $revenue volume but the profit margins are in the software - cluster file system licensing, Bright and other management/orchestration and scheduling software products.

      A lot of the 'cool' stuff that Cray does is indeed cool,but it adds to the cost, is non-standard and makes for a more proprietary design. That's out of fashion in the HPC space, I'm afraid.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: So long Cray.. we’ll miss you

        Well, if you want a vector supercomputer, like the original Cray I, built around custom chips... NEC has the SX-Aurora Tsubasa. On a card that plugs into an x86 box. So if Americans aren't doing cool HPC stuff, there is still one lone survivor in Japan.

        Of course, there's also Fujitsu, adding vector capabilities to ARM, though, and something might come of that.

  8. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Depressing

    That news really depressed me. For a couple of months, I worked on a Cray XMP, water cooled and all; FORTRAN with some pragmas. Nothing sacred anymore. I need to retire.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rev up your CV's if you work for Cray

    The HPE broom will sweep most of you away by the end of the year.

    HPE has almost become a place where if you work for them you'd rather put 'on the dole' or 'watching paint dry' on your CV rather than admit you worked there.

    Why it took me so long to see the light I don't know. Perhaps it was in the hope that things would get better. They didn't.

    Wave after wave of PHB's with MBA's decimated once profitable teams.

    Get out now while you can.

  10. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    "Craptivity"

    An elegant word coined by a government colleague some years back, before SGI got whacked:

    Me: "How ya doin'? Are you going to buy that big SGI?"

    Mate: "Nah, I'm in craptivity"

    Me: ??

    Mate: "You remember we bought the HP server farm? It's such a piece of crap that it has destroyed our support and maintenance funding lines. It also absorbs my planning and mission engineering lines, so I don't even have the resources left to do the market research needed to replace the POS or buy the SGI. I am captive to the crap. I'm in craptivity."

  11. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    HPE's chief exec Antonio Neri said: "Answers to some of society's most pressing challenges are buried in massive amounts of data. Only by processing and analyzing this data will we be able to unlock the answers to critical challenges across medicine, climate change, space and more."

    Some of the finest minds in our great British newspapers said the same thing about The Bible Code...

  12. Nick Kew
    Unhappy

    Once upon a time ...

    Cray itself holds no memories for me. But the reminder of SGI ... I worked on an SGI workstation back in the mid-1990s, and I remember the hardware as pure pleasure. Not something I've encountered in a professional capacity either before or since.

    T'was nearly a decade ago Oracle borged my then-employer Sun. IBM had long-since shifted away from being a hardware-shop. Is there a place left for box-shifters, other than consumer devices and low-end commodity products?

  13. gannett
    Thumb Up

    Working at Cray

    I worked at Cray for 8 years in the 90’s, the people were great, the was kit fantastic and I still use lessons learnt from those years especially in multi core programming. The customers were demanding but they had spent $Millions to buy them. The SGI merge was a flop from the start, USA Midwest company trying to mash with West coast outfit.

    As a computer guy starting work at Cray was like a car mechanic going to work for Lamborghini.

  14. fredesmite Bronze badge

    Why ?

    Nothing unique.

    All the same off the shelve Intel garbage with infiniband running Linux .

    Everyone gets Foxxcon to build the same crap

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Why ?

      Cray make their own interconnect, their hardware is also a way from normal x86 blades and pizza boxes too.

      1. fredesmite Bronze badge

        Re: Why ?

        Define " own interconnect "

        All 100 % off the shelf now

  15. CFtheNonPartisan

    Cray Inc is not really Cray Research. After the SGI takeover Cray 'assets' (ie much of what was left of Cray Research) was sold to Tera Computer who then changed their name to Cray Inc and moved 'HQ' from Minneapolis and Chippewa Falls to Seattle. It has been a long windy road for the Crayons who persevered.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear

    As an ex Nimbler, I feel sorry for the Cray guys here.

  17. streaky Silver badge
    Alert

    HPE

    Being bought by HPE is like having a TV show put on air by Fox - you're going to get cancelled. Run away as fast as you can in the opposite direction would be my advice.

  18. Bitsminer

    S. Cray quotes

    There are a lot of Seymour Cray quotes. A lot of wisdom in them. Like the American philosopher C Stengel.

    My favourite is (approximately):

    We like to hire them young, before they know what's impossible.

  19. hoola Bronze badge

    HPE & HPC

    HPE have a huge chunk of the mid-range HPC market and are very good at it. Trickle down of SGI and Cray technologies into that space will make them even more competitive.

    The really huge one-off super computers that are used to point score benchmarks are often assembled from white boxes and whilst they make headlines, don't actually have a huge relevance in the normal industry where HPE excel.

    They may screw it up but it is not the same as commodity storage (those quoting Nimble). This could be seen as a smart move when combined with SGI as they now have a significant portfolio in this space and can offer pretty much what the client wants at any level.

  20. Mcguckin

    Just wait

    Until HPE has buyer’s remorse and they sue Cray’s management claiming fraud ...

  21. son of sam

    Here is a list of all the hardware and software companies that HPE has bought out over the last 20 years and successfully integrated ......

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Numa link

    Cray hold the patent for Numalink which is used by Bull for their large memory machines (and Sgi).

    Now HPE could then revoke the licence for Numalink thus killing the competition in the enterprise space (thinking large SAP HANA systems)

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