Subject: Systems | June 20, 2011 - 11:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: supercomputing, petaflop
Residing in the Riken Advanced Institute For Computational Science in Kobe, a Japanese supercomputer capable of 8.16 petaflops of computational power has reclaimed the number one supercomputer spot on the Top 500 list. The last time Japan held the number one spot was in 2004 with their Earth Simulator. Dubbed the K Computer, the new Japanese machine has handily widened the gap between the now second place Chinese Tianhe 1A, which delivers close to a fourth of the computational power at 2.57 petaflops.
The K Computer Setup at Riken AICS.
What makes the new supercomputer especially interesting is that it uses only CPUs to deliver all 8.16 petaflops, and eschews any graphics processors or other accelerators. Specifically, the K Computer is comprised of 68,544 eight core SPARC64 VIIIfx processors, which amounts to 548,352 processing cores. When the supercomputer enters service at the Riken AICS, it will be capable of even more performance. Specifically, it will deliver more than 10 petaflops using 80,000 of the eight core SPARC CPUs (640,000 cores).
One of the K Computer's racks.
Unfortunately, this top level computational power comes at a price, specifically the amount of power required to run the machine. While running the Linpack benchmark, the machine drew 10 megawatts of power, which is slightly more than twice the average power consumption of the other top 10 systems at 4.3 megawatts.
If the CPU-only design is capable of delivering greater than 10 petaflops once the K Computer is put into operation, it will be a very noteworthy feat. On the other hand, the climbing power requirements are an issue, and the competition is unlikely to surpass the K Computer without further breakthroughs in power-efficient processor and memory designs. Erich Strohmaier, the head of the Future Technology Group of the Computational Research Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was quoted by Computer World as stating "Even if it is not desirable, we can adapt to 10 MW for the very largest systems, but we cannot allow power consumption to grow much more." You can read more about the new system over at Computer World.
Subject: Systems | May 24, 2011 - 09:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tesla, supercomputer, petaflop, HPC, bulldozer
Cray has been a huge name in the supercomputer market for years, and with the new XK6 they are promising to deliver a supercomputer capable of 50 Thousand Trillion operations per second. Powered by AMD Operton CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs, each XK6 blade is comprised of 2 Gemini interconnects pairing four AMD Opteron CPUs with four NVIDIA Tesla X2090 embedded graphics cards. The graphics cards in each blade have access to 6GB of GDDR5 memory, and are connected via PCI-E 2.0 links to the Opteron processors. The CPUS have access to four DDR3 memory slots “running at 1.6GHz for every G34 socket,” according to The Register. This amounts to 32GB per two-socket node when using 4GB sticks.
Cray plans to wait until AMD releases the 16 core 32nm Opteron CPUs in Q3, dubbed the Opteron 6200s. The Register quotes AMD’s CEO Thomas Siefert as promising the processors are based on the new Bulldozer cores (and would be compatible with the current G34 sockets) “would ship by summer.”
Further, they claim that Cray’s goal with the XK6 was to keep the new blades within the same thermal boundaries as its predecessor, despite the inclusion of GPUs into the mix. Cray has indicated that, due to their success in remaining within the thermal envelope, their customers will be able to use XE6 and XK6 blades interchangeably and will allow them to customize their supercomputer load-out to meet the demands of their specific computing workloads.
Each cabinet is capable of storing up to 24 blades, and can deliver up to 50 kilowatts of power. Each of the Tesla X2090 GPUS are capable of 665 gigaflops during double-precision floating point operations, something that GPUs excel at. As each XK6 blade contains 4 GPUS, and each cabinet can hold 24 blades, customers are looking at 63.8 teraflops of computing power solely from the graphics cards. On the CPU side of things, Cray is not able to release specifications on the processors as AMD has yet to deliver the chips in question. The Register estimates that each XK6 blade will provide 3.5 teraflops of floating point computing power, which amounts to approximately 84 teraflops per cabinet.
With a claimed capability to utilize up to 300 cabinets full of XK6 blades, customers are looking at approximately 44 petaflops of computing horsepower, with GPUs delivering 19.14 petaflops, and the CPUs estimated to provide 25.2 petaflops of floating point computational power.
The first customer of this system will be the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre. According to the Seattle Times, the center’s director Professor Thomas Schulthess stated that they chose the Cray XK6 based supercomputer not for it’s raw performance, but because “the Cray XK6 promises to be the first general-purpose supercomputer based on GPU technology, and we are very much looking forward to exploring its performance and productivity on real applications relevant to our scientists.”
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