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SiCortex superflopper found at DOE lab

Weird and paid for

DeLorean-inspired supercomputer maker SiCortex has found its first customer.

Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has picked up a SC5832 beasty. The system can crank through 5.8 teraflops and will be used for tasks in the astrophysics, climate modeling and biotechnology arenas. You know, low-end computing.

The customer victory is quite some time coming. We first profiled SiCortex in late 2006. In fairness, SiCortex timed its public unveiling for last year's Supercomputing conference and has only just pumped out production units.

Since then, the company has stuck to its same goal of producing a system that can tear through multi-threaded code while consuming far less power than general purpose boxes. The SC5832, for example, has 5832 64-bit cores with each one using 600 milliwatts of power. All told, a full SC5832 cabinet consumes less than 20 kilowatts of power.

SiCortex also sells a smaller SC648 system.

SiCortex managed to coax a fairly juicy quotation out of Argonne - a Department of Energy facility.

"As we move into the era of petascale computing, scaling current applications to work with thousands of processors will be a major challenge,” said Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director of Computing and Life Sciences at Argonne. “We believe that the power-efficient SiCortex architecture represents the way high-performance computers will be designed in the future.”

That's a nice vote of confidence for a company with what many would consider a very radical design and one that differs dramatically from the x86-based clusters that dominate the top 500 supercomputers list. ®

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