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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay
Goog Wallet apparently also spurned in NFC lockdown
Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box
Only 250th most powerful in the world? Bring back Michael Fish
Microsoft brings the CLOUD that GOES ON FOREVER
Sky's the limit with unrestricted space in the cloud
'ANYTHING BUT STABLE' Netflix suffers BIG Europe-wide outage
Friday night LIVE? Nope. The only thing streaming are tears down my face
Google roolz! Nest buys Revolv, KILLS new sales of home hub
Take my temperature, I'm feeling a little bit dizzy
Cisco and friends chase WiFi's searing speeds with new cable standard
Cat 5e and Cat 6 are bottlenecks for WLAN access points
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
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.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.