Feeds

Oak Ridge goes gaga for Nvidia GPUs

Fermi chases Cell for HPC dough

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Oak Ridge National Laboratories may not be the first customer that Nvidia will have for its new "Fermi" graphics processor, which was announced yesterday, but it will very likely be one of the largest customers.

Oak Ridge, one of the giant supercomputing centers managed and funded by the US Department of Energy to do all kinds of simulations and supercomputing design research, has committed to using the GPU co-processor variants of the Fermi chips, the kickers to the current Tesla GPU co-processors, in a future hybrid system that would have ten times the floating point oomph of the fastest supercomputer installed today.

Depending on the tests you want to use, the most powerful HPC box in the world is either the Roadrunner hybrid Opteron-Cell massively parallel custom blade box made by IBM for Los Alamos National Laboratory, or the Jaguar massively parallel XT5 machine at Oak Ridge, which uses only the Opterons to do calculations.

The Roadrunner machine relies on the Cell chips, which are themselves a kind of graphics processor with a single Power core linked into it, to do the heavy lifting on floating point calculations. The compute nodes in the Roadrunner are comprised of a two-socket blade server using dual-core Opteron processors running at 1.8GHz.

Advanced Micro Devices has six-core Istanbul Opterons in the field that are pressing up against the 3GHz performance barrier. But shifting to these faster x64 chips would not radically improve the overall performance of the Roadrunner machine.</p

Going faster miles an hour

Each Opteron blade uses HyperTransport links out to the PCI-Express bus to link to two dual-socket Cell blades. Each Cell processor is running at 3.2GHz, and has eight vector processors (which are used to do the graphics in the Sony PlayStation 3, among other tasks the Cell chips were created to do). The Cell chips also include one 64-bit Power core to manage these on-chip vector processors, which deliver 12.8 gigaflops of double-precision performance each.

Each Opteron core gets its own Cell chip to do its math for it, like the blonde who isn't dating the nerd but the nerd thinks is, and the beauty is that the x64 applications using the message passing interface (MPI) protocol to run parallelized applications runs with minor modifications on the hybrid Opteron-Cell box.

And each server node (one x64 node with two Cell co-processor nodes) can deliver 409.6 gigaflops of double-precision floating-point math. On the Linpack Fortran benchmark test, the Roadrunner with 129,600 cores is able to deliver 1.1 petaflops of sustained performance.

While the Jaguar XT5 machine at Oak Ridge is powerful, weighing in at 1.06 petaflops, it has to rely on its 150,152 cores to do the math. What Jaguar needs is some powerful nerds so its blondes can run code, and it looks like the next generation of machines at the supercomputer center are going to be using the Fermi GPUs.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Next page: Hybrid futures

More from The Register

next story
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
DEATH by COMMENTS: WordPress XSS vuln is BIGGEST for YEARS
Trio of XSS turns attackers into admins
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.