SGI is rolling out a hosted super-computing service in what it hopes will open up a 'new era of discovery' for scientists and businesses.

Called Cyclone, the service is designed specifically for technical applications that require a lot of computing horse-power.

Over the Internet, customers can now gain access to the world's fastest, most advanced computers and pay for only what they use, said Mark J. Barrenechea, SGI CEO.Cyclone will help customers focus on their business or research instead of worrying about complex computers or infrastructure.

SGI said the new service will initially support a number of applications and five technical domains, including computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis, computational chemistry and materials, computational biology and ontologies.

The service will come in two flavors: Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

With the SaaS model, customers can reduce time to results by accessing and fully exploiting Cyclone's pre-defined, pre-certified technical applications. The IaaS model allows customers to install and run their own applications.

Companies could use Cyclone to handle potential demand spikes, in addition to their own supercomputing resources. Or they could use Cyclone as a fallback if their own high-performance computing data center fails.

Large supercomputing centers such as ours will benefit from the ability to scale computing capacity dynamically, on-demand, and experiment with the latest technologies, said Michael Levine, co-founder of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).

Use of Cyclone costs US$0.95 per core per hour. Users must also rent a management node and can opt to rent high-speed storage for $0.20 per gigabyte per month.

Customers will also need to pay licensing fees for any third-party software they use and have the option of hiring SGI professional services to help with optimizing their projects.

The Fremont, Calif-based computing company will host deploy its own hardware and software out of a datacenter in Silicon Valley and the Midwest.