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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 12, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Seattle’s Cray makes world’s fastest computer, and it’s recycled

The new global speed test for supercomputers puts a system from Seattle’s Cray on top, beating mega systems from IBM and others.

In results announced today by the Top500 supercomputer ranking organization, the top system is the Cray XK7 “Titan” at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Titan also crushed the Chinese supercomputer that topped the 2010 rankings, causing a ripple of concern about the U.S. losing its edge in the most advanced computer systems.

Titan.jpg

In its release, the Top500 organization noted that the U.S. remains the leading supercomputer consumer with 250 of the top 500 systems in the country. Europe has 105 and Asia has 124.

The Top500 organization said Titan achieved 17.59 petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark.

Cray announced the system last month, saying it’s comprised of 18,688 compute nodes, each with a 16-core AMD Opteron processor and Nvidia Tesla GPU, all packed into 200 cabinets.

Oak Ridge noted that it also has 710 terabytes of memory, and a hybrid architecture leading toward much faster systems. From its release:

Its hybrid architecture – the combination of traditional central processing units (CPUs) with graphic processing units (GPUs) – is largely lauded as the first step toward the goal of exascale computing, or generating 1,000 quadrillion calculations per second using 20 megawatts of electricity or less.

Titan’s theoretical peak speed is even faster – 27 quadrillion calculations per second, or 27 petaflops, Oak Ridge said in its release.

The Top500 described Titan as having 560,640 processors, including 261,632 NVIDIA K20x accelerator cores.

Cray bumped IBM out of the top spot. June’s ranking was led by Sequoia, an IBM BlueGene/Q supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Its 1,572,864 cores did 16.32 petaflops.

Cray’s win comes just a few days after the company unveiled the next generation of its top-end supercomputer. It already has six orders for the XC30 systems that are designed to scale up to workloads over 100 petaflops.

Seattle shouldn’t fret too much about the roughly 9 megawatts of power consumed by the Titan supercomputer when it’s going full bore. Titan is actually recycled, from an older XT5 system called “Jaguar” that took the top speed ranking in 2009.

Titan’s new technology makes it ten times faster than Jaguar while only increasing power usage by 20 percent, according to Oak Ridge, which uses the system for scientific research.

Here’s the top 10 list:

1. Titan – Cray XK7 , Opteron 6274 16C 2.200GHz, Cray Gemini interconnect, NVIDIA K20x

2. Sequoia – BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60 GHz, Custom

3. K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Tofu interconnect

4. Mira – BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom

5. JUQUEEN – BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.600GHz, Custom Interconnect

6. SuperMUC – iDataPlex DX360M4, Xeon E5-2680 8C 2.70GHz, Infiniband FDR

7. Stampede – PowerEdge C8220, Xeon E5-2680 8C 2.700GHz, Infiniband FDR, Intel Xeon Phi

8. Tianhe-1A – NUDT YH MPP, Xeon X5670 6C 2.93 GHz, NVIDIA 2050

9. Fermi – BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom

10. DARPA Trial Subset – Power 775, POWER7 8C 3.836GHz, Custom Interconnect

Here’s a rendering of the XC30 system, which will start at around $250,000:

Cray_XC30_Render.jpg

Comments | Topics: Cray, supercomputer, top500

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