Gawker - Texas's supercomputing Ranger
60,000 cores of justice
We first met Ranger in Oct. of 2006. Back then, Sun Microsystems, AMD and the Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC) speculated that they might be on the way to producing the fastest supercomputer in the world.
Thanks to AMD's delays shipping a four-core Opteron chip, cabling issues and general InfiniBand woes the top dog dream failed to occur. Instead, Ranger's official unveiling took place this week with the supercomputer standing as the world's fastest "open" system. Fair enough.
Ranger exemplifies what can result from Sun's so-called Constellation designs. With the help of co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim and others, Sun has crafted servers, storage and especially networking gear that can scale - and how. For example, the Ranger system runs on 15,744 of AMD's quad-core "Barcelona" versions of Opteron. It also uses Sun's x4500 'sterver' (hybrid server and storage box) to reach 1.7 petabytes of data capacity. And then there's the Magnum switch, which offers up 3,456 ports of InfiniBand goodness and total bandwidth of 110Tb/s.
The system's peak performance comes in at 504 teraflops, which trails the IBM Blue Gene system sitting at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL). The IBM system enjoyed an upgrade while TACC sorted out the Opteron issues, bringing it to 106,496 PowerPC-based nodes and a peak performance of 596 teraflops.
Grabbing the top slot may not seem like a big deal, but it is. IBM receives for a mountainous volume of extra press because of Blue Gene's status. Even more impressive, IBM has managed to maintain its kingly position for years, which is tough to do in the ever-upgrading world of supercomputers.
But where LLNL's machine ultimately falls under control of the US Department of Energy, Ranger makes it way to researchers of various stripes.
Built via a $59m award, Ranger will reside on the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid, which pulls together numerous computing centers to provide researchers with lots of horsepower. In addition, the system arrived thanks to the efforts of TACC, the University of Texas's Institute for Computational and Engineering Sciences (ICES), Arizona State University and Cornell University.
"Ranger offers more than six times the performance of the previous largest system for open science research," the parties said.
And in perhaps the oddest calculation comparison of all time, they added, "The boost in performance offered by Ranger relative to the previously largest open science machine is comparable to reducing the flight time from New York to London to just one hour."
That's just fine, but how many gibbon months will this knock off deforestation?
A solid 90 per cent of Ranger power will go to the TeraGrid, while TACC will suck down ten per cent for its own good and for the good of research projects across the great state of Texas.
Sun and AMD, of course, receive their fair share of glory for putting Ranger together as well. But all is not perfect for AMD.
The company made a special effort to get those Opterons to TACC, meaning that it had to send in the buggy first batch of chips. A temporary fix for these chips does cause some performance degradation, which is not what you want in a supercomputer.
Sun's server chief John Fowler, however, has characterized the performance issues as minimal. Nonetheless, AMD will be digging into its own pockets to pay for an upgrade to fixed Opterons in the coming months, as we understand it. ®
@ Bryan and mike
"My machine isn't special, an Intel 6400, 3Gig of 6400 DDR2 Ram at 4-4-4-12, around 8-900 Gig HD space, a 7900GT"
fdotflsltih* want one now. Do they come in platinum cases with diamonds?
"your new overpowered quad core PC and double-wides"
We actually have a couple of these things. For advanced 3D image analysis. They run Vista just fine. I love annoying (l)users by telling them that they would run "like, 1000 times faster" under Linux, and threatening to show them ("of course, you'll have to get a grasp on bash first, but you're clever, shouldn't be a problem" is when they pass out)
I still prefer my good old Linux box with a plain Turion 64 x2 and 1G of RAM, and its 19' CRT. But I also prefer the busty farm maid next door over Paris...
Where's the "busty milkmaid" icon???? Let's go for the "chubby penguin" instead. They've got tighter ports anyway (http://flow.arrr.net/penguins.pdf).
* just in case you wonder: falling down on the floor laughing so loud that it hurts
re: Re: re: Pierre By John PM Chappell
Oh c'mon. Lets just pick the biggest easiest target and have make some fun of it instead of being a man about it and rising above. Fanboi...no, I'm just the guy that puts in the time to make it work because I know that eventually my clients may be buying it or somehow end up with it on a new PC. In the IT business it pays to keep up with the latest software instead of being suprised by it.
I fully expected there to be issues with Vista when it came out, just like XP, and 2000, and ME, and 98, and 95, and 3.1, and 6.22, and 5.0, and .......everytime there is a major shift in the kernel I expect vendors to take some time to catch up with drivers and software to make everything work peacefully together-ever notice that somehow MS stuff seems to work almost perfectly on the newest OS? I also expect each newer version of MS-whatever to require more hardware-this is not a new concept with MS OS's; it has been going on for 15+years.
Do I recommend Vista for my clients?-no, they are comfortable with XP and it does what they want. Do I recommend it to power users....yea, have a ball with it and your new overpowered quad core PC and double-wides(put that in the reg dictionary as a pair of 20" or larger widescreens hooked up to a single PC).
When too much is just right!-RockfordFosgate
Firstly the whole M$ or Microshaft et all is juvenile at best and just plain sad at worst. If it weren't for them shafting us for years os's wouldn't be where they are. Also I run Vista now, was using a dual boot xp/vista but went over to just running Vista. I also have various versions of Linsux (see how silly it is). My machine isn't special, an Intel 6400, 3Gig of 6400 DDR2 Ram at 4-4-4-12, around 8-900 Gig HD space, a 7900GT.