Feeds

DARPA asks you to cram petaflops super into single rack

To dream the ExtremeScale dream

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - the research and development arm of the US military - has issued a challenge to nerds, geeks, techies, and boffins to bid on how they would build a petaflops-scale system of nearly unimaginable energy efficiency and compactness. Oh, and the prospective system also needs to be mobile and require no special programming skills to use.

In other words, DARPA wants an AK-47 that crunches numbers. Lots of numbers.

El Reg caught wind of DARPA's ExtremeScale thinking back in June 2009, when DARPA issued a request for information to the HPC community to come up with a supercomputing system that could jam a petaflops in a rack, burn only about 57 kilowatts (enough to be powered by a portable electric generator and including the juice needed to cooling the rack), and be easy to program. The idea seems patently ridiculous based on current technologies, and it's particularly silly without thinking about the price tag of such a development effort.

Still, DARPA is apparently unhappy enough about the current plans for exascale supercomputers from IBM, Cray, and Silicon Graphics - which Uncle Sam more or less pays to be in the HPC business - to go off the board and issue the ExtremeScale challenge to anyone who thinks they can crack the problem. And rather than trying to focus on creating ever-more-powerful supers, DARPA wants much smaller supers with lots of power and crazy levels of energy efficiency. It wants portable petaflops, mainly because you can't trust network links on a battlefield. (Even if you did, as DARPA did, invent the Internet).

You can fill out the request for proposal form to try to get on the list to participate in the bidding process for the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing program at DARPA here and take a look at the detailed goals of the program there.

DARPA is crazy, but it is not insane, and therefore, it does not expect companies to literally support its current applications on such a box - or even to support legacy compilers such as C and Fortran. The UHPC project does not expect the technologies proposed to be available until 2018, and it does not even care so much if the underlying technologies that would be deployed in a UHPC ExtremeScale system get widely commercialized. But DARPA is adamant that it wants to cram the system, its networking, its storage, and its cooling into a cabinet that is 24 inches wide by 78 inches high and 40 inches deep - a little wider and taller than a standard server rack.

DARPA also wants the system to deliver 50 gigaflops per watt on the Linpack benchmark test, with a peak performance of one petaflops. That 57 kilowatt power budget is essentially what is required to completely run the box. The system has to chew on data coming in from a massive streaming sensor array, do single- and double-precision floating point math that is compatible with IEEE754 standards as well as 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit integer math. The UHPC ExtremeScale system will need something on the order of 10 bytes per flops, or 10 petabytes, according to the DARPA specs.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
Seagate chances ARM with NAS boxes for the SOHO crowd
There's an Atom-powered offering, too
Gartner: To the right, to the right – biz sync firms who've won in a box to the right...
Magic quadrant: Top marks for, er, completeness of vision, EMC
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.