Hardware

Supercomputer architectures set to scale new heights


At the International Supercomputing Conference held in Dresden, Germany, IBM announced its next-generation Blue Gene/P, which can scale more than 1 petaflop computing capacity, and Sun Microsystems unveiled plans to make it to the top list with its "Constellation" architecture. Also, Microsoft seeks to garner more market share in the supercomputing arena with low-end offerings for enterprises.

IBM's Blue Gene/P

Blue Gene/L uses dual-core 700MHz chips. Blue Gene/P has four 850 MHz PowerPC 450 processors integrated on a single chip. Each chip is capable of 13.6 billion operations per second. A two-foot-by-two-foot board containing 32 of these chips churns out 435 billion operations every second, making it more powerful than a typical, 40-node cluster based on two-core commodity processors. (Source: ITworld.com | TechWorld)

More links:

IBM enters Petascale era with Blue Gene/P (HPC Wire)

IBM unveils world's fastest supercomputer (The New Zealand Herald)

Sun's Constellation

With a total throughput of 110 TBits/s across 1152 cables, each with 12 connections, it is designed to accelerate the sharing of data between servers and between RAM and mass storage. The Infiniband switches currently available on the market have a maximum of 288 ports and also need additional edge switches. The switch connects the server racks, each of which has 48 blades. In turn, each blade has four quad-core Opterons to produce a total of 16 cores. For one petaflop, the machine requires some 130,000 processor cores spread across 170 racks. (Source: Heise Online)

Also, the 'Constellation' runs on a 3,456 port central switch, and a standard rack would hold up to 768 cores.

Microsoft is in the fray too

Microsoft is also trying to promote the use of high-performance computing among enterprises on its Windows Cluster Server (The New Zealand Herald). It will be interesting to watch how Sun Microsystems and Microsoft affect the supercomputing scene where HP and IBM are the dominant leaders.

More links:

Microsoft touts supercomputing for the masses (CNET News.com | Reuters)

Check out the list of the top 500 supercomputers as of June 2007.

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