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May 24, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Cray launches XK6 “hybrid” supercomputer, 50 petaflops on tap

Seattle supercomputer maker Cray is joining the hybrid craze with an amazing new machine that combines AMD x86 processors with Nvidia graphics processors.

The Cray XK6 scales up to more than 50 petaflops of processing capability. This comes barely three years after the first petaflop computer, an IBM system capable of 1,000 trillion operations per second.

Cray XK6 supercomputer.png

Cray announced the system today at a user group meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska. The first buyer is the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, which is going to upgrade its XE6m Cray system to a multi-cabinet XK6.

Professor Thomas Schulthess, the center director, said in a release that then center was looking for a workhorse, not a speed demon to set new computing records.

“Given the remarkable interest in GPU technology from the Swiss computational science community, it is essential that CSCS adopt this technology into its high-end production systems soon,” he said. “However, we are not looking for another GPU based stunt to place high on any Top500 lists. 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.”

That’s a clear reference to a Chinese system using more than 7,000 Nvidia processors that bumped a Cray XT5 off the Top500 fastest computer list last year.

The system runs Cray’s version of Linux.

Introductory prices of the XK6 range from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the configuration.

Somebody at Cray must have a fondness for a particular British sports car. The XT5 was nicknamed Jaguar, and XK has been used by several different Jaguar cars.

Spokesman Nick Davis said the name was chosen simply because it’s an extension of Cray’s naming conventions.

Comments | Topics: Cray, supercomputer, Supercomputing

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