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Cray super lands at Swedish tech institute

Lots o' Scandinavian flops

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Sweden's Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, or Royal Institute of Technology, is getting a substantial upgrade for its Parallel Dator Centrum (PDC), or Center for Parallel Computers. The Swedish institute houses the country's largest supercomputing facilities, and with the installation of a Cray XT6m midrange parallel super, researchers are going to have some more flops to play around with.

KTM has used a bunch of different Xeon and Itanium clusters over the years to run its simulations, do research on parallel cluster architectures, and give its 14,500 engineering students some iron to play on. The institute currently has five clusters running in its data center in Stockholm. The largest is called Ekman, a Dell PowerEdge cluster using 1,260 nodes equipped with Opteron 2354 processors (10,144 cores in total) lashed together with quad-data rate InfiniBand switches, giving it a rating of about 90 teraflops. Another Dell cluster, based on Intel's Xeon 5400s and called Ferlin, has 672 nodes and is rated at 57.9 teraflops. The Swedish institute also has a 2,048-core BlueGene/L box from IBM with 5.7 teraflops of number crunching power, an HP Integrity Itanium box used as a fat node called Key.

Ingrid Bergman Super

Swedish super (pre-Cray)

What is immediately obvious is that KTH was not a Cray customer, but now it is. And rather than wait in line behind the US government for a Cray XE6 super, based on the same Opteron 6100 blades as KTH is getting in its XT6m system but sporting the more scalable "Gemini" interconnect for 3D torus topologies that Cray debuted, the institute is shopping frugally and going with the older SeaStar2+ interconnect in a 2D torus.

The XT6m midrange supers are aimed at customers who need from 10 to 100 teraflops (up to about 13,000 cores) and who can spend from $500,000 to $3m to get it. The new XE6 "Baker" systems are aimed at customers who need to push up into the petascale range. Should KTH need to do that at some point, it can swap out the SeaStar2+ interconnect and swap in a Gemini module without changing its blades.

The XT6m machine that KTH is getting is rated at 93 teraflops and is part of the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing program to goose the supercomputing capability in the country. The new machine will support computational chemistry, bioinformatics, molecular dynamics, computational fluid dynamics, and other applications. ®

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