Feeds

King K super: does it refute hybrid HPC model?

GPUs are still GPU-riffic

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

ISC'11 It's been an eventful International Supercomputing Conference (ISC'11) in Hamburg. The Japanese sprang their K Computer on an unsuspecting HPC world, throwing down 8.126 Pflops on the table and raising the high-water performance mark by a factor of three.

Just as surprising was the fact that they did it the old-fashioned waywith semi-proprietary processors, a custom interconnect, and no fancy accelerators.

Was it only six months ago when the Chinese, with their 2.56 Pflop Tianhe system, appeared to have locked down the top spot for at least a year or more with heavy use of GPU accelerators?

This led many pundits (myself included) to say that the age of hybrid HPC was upon us, and that we probably wouldn’t see another non-hybrid system topping the chart anytime soon.

So is the K computer a signpost pointing to the resurgence of traditional CPU plus custom interconnect HPC? Or is it an aberration on the road to our hybrid future?

King K is hard to argue against. It has 93 per cent computational efficiency (RMax/RPeak), which is much more efficient than the rest of the top 10 systems, which sport numbers ranging from the low 40s to the low 80s.

Although it takes a staggering amount of power to run, almost 10 megawatts, it delivers 824 Mflops per watt, which makes it a close second on the top ten; it's barely edged out by the fifth largest system, the NEC/HP system at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

And, as others have pointed out, this system isn't done growing - there are still roughly another 200 racks of room available. But I tend to think that the K computer is an superbly-executed aberration.

I think the biggest of the big supercomputers will ultimately be hybrid CPU + accelerator systems. In the final analysis, performance comes down to parallelism, cores, and core density.

Specialized cores, like those in GPUs, don't need all the trappings of general-purpose CPUs and can thus be crammed closer together. The NVIDIA Fermi GPU sports 512 cores running at 1.3 GHz, while Intel's Westmere has 6 cores running at 3.4GHz.

Clock for clock, that's an advantage of 32x in favor of the Fermi. One of the better CPU vs. GPU discussions is here, in the Top 10 Objections to GPU Computing Reconsidered.

It was authored by Dr. Vincent Natoli, a computational physicist who has spent 20 years working in HPC. In the article, he lays out the major arguments against GPU computing and responds to them with clear explanations and convincing logic.

It also serves as a primer on the value proposition behind the move toward hybrid HPC and is well worth a few minutes reading time. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.