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Dell makes another cluster sale

France-based petroleum researcher CGG buys 1,125 Dell servers for use in several new clusters used in searching out oil and gas deposits based on seismic modeling.

A new cluster of Dell computers is helping France's Compagnie Generale de Geophysique in its search for oil.

The oil-services company, otherwise known as CGG, has purchased 1,125 new Dell PowerEdge servers to go into computing clusters used in searching out oil and gas deposits based on seismic modeling, Dell said in a statement Wednesday.

Clusters tie together large numbers of standard servers, known as nodes, to harness their collective processing power. The collections, which often use the Linux operating system, are becoming popular with large corporations and educational institutions because of their relatively low cost and high performance.

CGG's newest server purchases, to be installed in clusters in Houston, Canada, France, Kuala Lumpur and the United Kingdom, will join several other CGG Dell clusters, including a 3,000 node cluster and a 512 node Dell server cluster, Dell said.

While clusters offer lots of performance for companies in industries like oil and gas, they also promise to help Dell further its goal of growing revenue to the $60 billion mark over the next few years.

Because clusters could help Dell win ever-larger computer sales from businesses, the manufacturer has put a large amount of emphasis on building business there. It has launched a special cluster program that offers businesses cluster starter packages and service programs that help implement them.

Some of Dell's other clusters include a 2008 node installation at the State University of New York at Buffalo, which is being used for things like genetics research. The University of Liverpool has also installed a 940 node Dell cluster for use by its physics department.

Although CGG has purchased a number of Dell servers, Dell isn't the only computer maker the oil and gas research company works with. CGG recently installed 256 IBM blade servers, for example.

Dell said that, assuming CGG is paying list price, this most recent purchase would be valued at about $2.5 million.