Feeds

IBM shows off Power7 HPC monster

Big Blue unveils big box: Crowd goes wild

High performance access to file storage

As we had been anticipating, IBM is indeed dropping the clock speeds of the Power7 chips down, and IBM now confirms that for this Power7 IH MCM, clock speeds will range from 3.5GHz to 4GHz. The current Power6+ chips top out at 5 GHz, but only have two cores per chip and fewer execution units. IBM says that this single package will deliver just north of one teraflops of number-crunching power using just the floating point units.

At 800 watts, the package is not cool by any means, but the Power7 IH MCM is delivering performance at 1.28 gigaflops per watt at the package level. A Xeon 5500 chip from Intel can do four floating point operations per core, or 16 across four cores in a single die, and that means the top-speed X5570 running at 2.93GHz and rated at 95 watts can deliver 46.9 gigaflops, or only 493 megaflops per watt at the chip level.

Dropping down to the 80-watt E5540 helps a bit, delivering 506 megaflops per watt, and stepping down to the 60-watt L5530 running at 2.4 GHz gives you 640 megaflops per watt. The Power7 module is precisely twice as good, but you can damned sure bet it will cost a lot more than twice as much.

The Power7 IH node, as you can see in this picture, is not small. It is 39 inches wide by 6 feet deep, including space for cables. The IH node drawer is 2U high and it has room for eight of these Power7 IH MCMs, for a total of 256 cores. There are two monster motherboards underpinning the processors and their memory and the hub/switch and its interconnects. These mobos are manufactured by Japanese server maker Hitachi and Benner said that these were one of the largest motherboards ever made.

Power7 IH HPC Server Node

The Power7 IH HPC server node

The IH nodes are completely water-cooled, with water blocks on the Power7 MCM packages, on the 8 GB DDR3 memory modules IBM had specially designed for the box, and on the Power7 IH hub/switches, which were not given a proper name yet.

The memory modules include buffers on the DIMMs, which IBM also designed, to help accelerate their performance. There are 16 DIMM slots per socket in the Power7 IH node, and IBM is using 8GB DIMMs, yielding 4GB per core.

A total of 1TB of main memory is on each drawer, and the fully loaded Blue Waters box will have 2PB of main memory. IBM is being a bit cagey about the memory architecture, but the Power7 chips have some features to implement a kind of global address space (not cache coherent shared memory like in SMP and NUMA servers). It will be interesting to see how this global address space memory is architected and how it performs.

In this picture, the power supplies are to the right, and moving leftward are banks of DDR3 memory, the eight Power7 IH MCM sockets, another bank of memory, the IH hub/switch modules with optical links going out to the left and right (the orange cables), which route out to the back and come out as optical links to other server nodes in a cluster. The left side of the chassis (which is the back of the rack in the Blue Waters machine) is also where there are 16 PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots and an extra x8 slot just for the heck of it.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.