Intel Hopes For Exaflop Capable Supercomputers Within 10 Years

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2011 - 07:52 AM |
Tagged: supercomputing, mic, larrabee, knights corner, Intel

Silicon Graphics International and Intel recently announced plans to reach exascale levels of computational power within ten years. Exascale computing amounts to computers that are capable of delivering 1,000+ petaflops (One exaflop is 1000 petaflops) of computational horsepower to process quintillions of calculations. To put that in perspective, today’s supercomputers are just now breaking into the level of single-digit petaflop performance, with the fastest supercomputer delivering 8.16 petaflops. It is capable of this thanks to many thousands of eight core CPUs, whereas other top 500 supercomputers are starting to utilize a CPU and GPU combination in order to achieve petaflop performance.

The Aubrey Isle Silicon Inside Knights Corner

This partnering of Central Processing Unit (CPU) and GPU (or other accelerator) allows high performance supercomputers to achieve much higher performance than with CPUs alone. Intel CPUs power close to 80% of the top 500 Supercomputers; however, they have begun to realize that specialized accelerators are able to speed up highly parallel computing tasks. Specifically, Intel plans to combine Xeon processors with successors to their Knights Corner Many Integrated Core accelerator to reach exascale performance levels when combined with other data transfer and inter-core communication advancements. Knights Corner is an upcoming successor to the Knights Ferry and Larrabee processors.

Computer World quotes Eng Lim Goh, the CTO of SGI, in stating that “Accelerators such as graphics processors (GPUs) are currently being used with CPUs to execute more calculations per second. While some accelerators achieve desired results, many are not satisfied with the performance related to the time and cost spent porting applications to work with accelerators.”

Knights corner will be able to run x86 based software and features 50 cores based on a 22nm manufacturing process.  Each core will run four threads at 1.2 GHz, have 8 MB of cache, and will be supported by 512 bit vector processing units.  It’s predecessor, Knights Ferry is based on 32 45nm cores and eight contained in a Xeon server and are capable of 7.4 teraflops. Their MIC chip is aimed directly at NVIDIA’s CUDA and AMD’s OpenCL graphics processors, and is claimed to offer performance in addition to ease of use as they are capable of running traditional x86 based software.

It looks like the CPU-only supercomputers will be seeing more competition from GPU and MIC accelerated supercomputers, and will eventually be replaced at the exascale level. AMD and NVIDIA are betting heavily on their OpenCL and CUDA programmable graphics cards while Intel is going with a chip capable of running less specialized but widely used x86 programmable chips.  It remains to be seen which platform will be victorious; however, the increased competition should hasten the advancement of high performance computing power.  You can read more about Intel’s plan for Many Integrated Core accelerated supercomputing here.

Japanese Supercomputer Takes First Place Crown On Top 500 List

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2011 - 03:34 AM |
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.

CiragoTV aims for the new platinum standard for HTPCs

Subject: Systems | June 17, 2011 - 09:09 PM |
Tagged: htpc, cirago

The CiragoTV Platinum Network Multimedia device comes in three flavours ranging from a $179 500GB to a $299 2TB version, all of which are identical apart from storage capacity.  It is not really a true HTPC as it does not include a TV Tuner, but it does offer a little more than a plain network multimedia platform since it has a Bittorrent client inside.  Legit Reviews tried it out and found Blu-ray ISO files to play perfectly and the device was capable of passing through DTS and Dolbly 7.1 digital sound to the receiver they used.  As well, as long as you are feeding it signal through a cable box it can record TV, though the ability to download shows makes that feature slightly redundant. 


"At $279.99, the 2TB CiragoTV CMC3200 has to be close to extraordinary especially when you match it up against the competition that is on the market today. The picture and video quality of the CMC3200 is very good – even excellent. The fact that we can record from a source and use a BitTorrent client makes the unit even more impressive. The sticker price is the biggest issue here..."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


Wii U Revealed To Contain Last Gen PC DirectX 10.1 Capable AMD Radeon GPU

Subject: Systems | June 14, 2011 - 09:08 PM |
Tagged: Wii U, radeon, r770, Nintendo, amd

While the current Nintendo console’s internals are very underpowered compared to the competition from the Xbox 360 and PS3, the company looks to leapfrog those consoles in the graphics department with the upcoming Wii U console. According to Engadget, the new Nintendo offering will come equipped with a GPU much like that of AMD’s 4800 series. The custom R770 chip is DirectX 10.1 and multi-display capable, allowing the console to output up to four SD video streams.

While the proposed chip is last-generation in terms of PC gaming, on the console front it will be the current highest-end GPU, with the Xbox 360 using a custom ATI X1900 GPU and the PS3 employing a custom RSX (”Reality Synthesizer”) graphics chip based on NVIDIA’s 7800GTX PC graphics card.

What do you think about Nintendo’s move to employ the AMD GPU?

Source: Engadget

HP announces 11 models using AMD Vision Technology

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 14, 2011 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: llano, hp


Level up! Llano life increased by 11 HP.

So, AMD is currently having a little shindig right now as you might be aware from recent news posts and news is just a leaking from the rafters. HP recently contacted us to announce that they just expanded both their consumer and business product lines to include 11 new models using “AMD’s latest Vision Technology”. What this means is we can expect a large array of products coming from HP that utilizes the latest generation of AMD CPUs and GPUs from their new Llano-based AMD A-Series product line. Expect a helping of Llano on your HP in the near future.

Source: HP

Habley Shows Off Small Atom PC Capable Of Playing Two 1080p HD Streams

Subject: Processors, Systems | June 13, 2011 - 12:57 AM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, hd, DIY, atom

Habley has recently shown off a new small, embedded computer dubbed the SOM-6670E6XX. The new computer is the size of a post-it note; however, it sports an Atom E600 processor running at 1.0Gh as well as an integrated GMA600 graphics core. To be more specific, the motherboard in question measures 70mm x 70mm.

The CPU and GPU blend is able to support two displays and pipe two HD video streams to each. Using Media Player Class Home Cinema 1.5, the computer is able to play both a 1080p MPEG4 trailer of the X-Men First Class film and a HD FLV version of SpiderWic simultaneously. While playing both films, the CPU saw around 93% usage and 210 MB of RAM from the Windows Embedded 2009 operating system. Further, while playing an HD FLV film trailer while also watching an HD YouTube clip, the processor was again pegged at 93% usage; however, in this test the RAM usage was much higher, at 422 MB. The test system used, in addition to the SOM-6670, it consisted of a SOMB-073 Carrier board (which provides the various IO including video and audio output, mouse and keyboard input, and SATA ports), 1GB of on-board RAM, and a 5400RPM laptop form factor (2.5”) 120GB hard drive.

Including the two monitors, at 1280x768 (over HDMI) and 1920x1080 (SDVO) respectively, the system drew 18 watts during usage. You can see the test system of the small HD-capable computer in action in the video below. What uses do you have in mind for a micro-sized computer such as this?

Source: MaximumPC

Is the InFocus 55" a wall tablet? Do you want it anyway?

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Systems | June 11, 2011 - 07:31 AM |
Tagged: wall tablet, InFocus

InFocus is branding their 55-inch touch-screen TV with Windows 7 embedded as a “Wall Tablet”. The writers down at HotHardware seem to take offense to a 55-inch device being called a tablet and I must agree. My duration working in high schools and acquiring an education degree grew me well acquainted with SMART boards and this product definitely recalls those memories much more vividly than my experience playing around with tablet devices.

The problem with touch screens in schools is that every screen is treated like one thereafter.

(Video from BusinessWire)

It is quite obvious that InFocus spent quite a large amount of time developing their user interface to dress up Windows 7 as a more whiteboard friendly operating system. Their interface has a custom file browser with annotation capabilities, a custom web browser, a digital whiteboard application, and a video conferencing solution that can interface with open protocols such as Google Talk and more proprietary ones such as Cisco. The unit itself has a 720p video camera and a screen resolution of 1920x1080 with multiple touch recognition, something that most (but not all) SMART boards are incapable of.

It is highly unlikely that you will have one of these $6000 devices in your house unless you happen to require it for professional reasons. For those in the education, training, research, or corporate management fields: a device like this could make your life much easier particularly if you were already considering installing a mass of SMART boards for this purpose. They are expected to ship to interested customers in July.

Source: HotHardware

Isn't it grand when you get to buy yourself a system

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2011 - 10:18 PM |
Tagged: upgrade, system build

As is mentioned in the beginning of this system build log at The Tech Report, the die hard geek tends to take better care of the systems of those around them than their own.  A problem on a system that is deemed as completely unusable by a friend or loved one would be completely ignored on our own systems if we can find at least a semi-usable workaround.  We might even go so far as to write down what should be fixed ... once we can find the time. 

It seems like the time had finally come for one particular geek, so you can read through the entire process they went through, specifying parts and assembling them. There were of course some kinks, physical mostly, from oversized graphics cards to strange memory compatibility issues.  It is more fun to read about it than to troubleshoot, so take a look over The Tech Report's shoulder as they build a system.


Wait ... that's not right!

"I'll admit to being like the proverbial plumber with a leaky sink. When it comes to my own, primary personal computer, I've been borderline neglectful for a little while now. Happily, I decided to end all that recently by building myself an excellent new computer."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


Get your TV on USB

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2011 - 07:33 PM |
Tagged: htpc, elgato eyetv, usb, tv tuner

The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is a USB 2.0 device that sports an antenna input, (MCX and an F connector), s-video, composite plus stereo audio and even an IR remote control sensor.  You don't need to crack open your case to install it, you can watch TV right away as the drivers are contained within the EyeTV, much like a USB headset.  Missing Remote tried it out and found it worked wonderfully by its self on both PCs and Macs.  They did mention that integration with popular software like SageTV for Mac, Plex and XBMC would make this device even better.


"When home theater computers first came to market almost 10 years ago, the television tuners that were available were few and far between, all internal, and featured a whopping single tuner. How times have changed. Now, dual tuners are a given and hybrid tuners seek to accomplish the duty of one-size-fits-all for all customers. The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid is one of those that within its tiny dongle of a body contains an NTSC, ATSC and DVB-T tuner for $129, and works with both Windows and Mac computers. With competition so steep in the tuner world however, how does it match up in a real world evaluation?"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


Foxconn NT-A3500, AMD's Fusion E-350 is kicking Atom where it hurts

Subject: Systems | June 1, 2011 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: nettop, e-350, amd

When it comes to tiny systems such as nettops, AMD's E-350 Fusion is doing what the Atom and ION combo can do, only faster, cooler and quieter.  While this is upsetting for NVIDIA and Intel, the consumer benefits almost as much as AMD does. techPowerUp just finished a review of a Foxconn product that demonstrates the abilities of the Fusion platform, the Netbox NT-A3500.  It is not for sale yet in North America but when it does hit the market you can expect around a $200 pricetag, plus RAM and a storage drive.  For that price you get the AMD E-350 and Radeon HD 6310 as well as Realtek ALC888S audio.  Wireless and wired LAN, four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, optical audio and analog audio, and DVI and HDMI outputs.  techPowerUp covers the rest of the features in their full review.


"Foxconn has made some waves with their compact but very capable ION based NT-330I Netbox back in 2010. Now, almost a year later the market has evolved and Foxconn is sending their newest version into the race. The NT-A3500 is based on the AMD Fusion platform, aiming to be faster, cooler and quieter."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:


Source: TechPowerUp