×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

US Regains Supercomputing Crown, Besting China and Japan

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the catbird-seat dept.

Supercomputing 132

dcblogs writes "The U.S., once again, is home to the world's most powerful supercomputer after being knocked off the list by China two years ago and Japan last year. The top computer, an IBM system at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is capable of 16.32 sustained petaflops, according to the Top 500 list, a global, twice a year ranking, released Monday. Despite the continuing strength of U.S. vendors globally, when China's supercomputer took the top position in June, 2010, it seemed to hit a national nerve. President Barack Obama mentioned China's top ranked supercomputer in two separate speeches, including his State of the Union address last year."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

132 comments

Conspiracy Nut (5, Interesting)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#40358599)

Each time I read a story like this I can't help think there are a bunch of faster machines that they don't tell us about.

Maybe, maybe not... (4, Informative)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#40358641)

At least in the *specific* performance characteristic of 64bit precision linear algebra, it's perfectly likely that the biggest player is reported.

In the cases where secrecy is probably preventing you from knowing about it, it probably is optimized for 32-bit precision floating point and/or large storage throughput to fuel data mining.

Of course, then there are collections of systems that could probably easily place in the list that are at least moderately well-known but not submitted, if it wouldn't be a financial catastrophe to take it down for a few days to dedicate to an xhpl run. An EC2 datacenter comes to mind.

Re:Maybe, maybe not... (4, Informative)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 2 years ago | (#40358835)

In the cases where secrecy is probably preventing you from knowing about it, it probably is optimized for 32-bit precision floating point and/or large storage throughput to fuel data mining.

Or (in the case of NSA) decryption. There isn't a computer large enough to solve really difficult decryption problems, but whatever there is probably lives somewhere in the NSA, and is very likely very, very large.

Maybe not as large as Google's farm, though. Or even Amazon's.

rgb

Re:Maybe, maybe not... (3, Informative)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40359163)

Well, there's reports that NSA is building a massive spy center in Utah utilizing quantum computers [alexanderhiggins.com] but I'm not sure if I believe it...it reeks of tin-foil hats to me.

But, then again, it wouldn't really surprise me if it were true...I just didn't think quantum computers were anywhere near practical application yet, and wouldn't be for some time, in my extremely limited knowledge on the subject.

Re:Maybe, maybe not... (2)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 2 years ago | (#40359501)

Yeah, I'm pretty skeptical about that (and about quantum computing in general). I know a bit more than nothing there, and I agree, they're not exactly ready for prime time (and might be a decade away). Also, their primary benefit is in ENcryption, not DEcryption, and I don't think that requires a supercomputer. Decryption simply requires speed and memory. Enormous, lifetime-of-the-Universe size-of-the-Universe-to solve-the-problem quantities of both for files encrypted with a good algorithm and a non-trivial key -- in fact, I honestly don't think that anybody can brute-force decrypt a properly encrypted document, including the NSA. Or rather, the correct application of brute force is to the individual holding the key -- waterboarding or threatening to remove vital body parts one at a time, that sort of thing. Because without the key, searching the keyspace scales, shall we say, "badly" -- out to lifetime of the Universe sorts of times very quickly, even with massively parallel computers doing the search. 4096 bits is searching 2^4096 = 10^1233 possibilities, which means that if you took every elementary particle in the visible universe (say 10^90 of them) and turned it into a computer, each computer would only have to search 10^1143 possibilities. Given a generous 10^27 nanoseconds in the lifetime of the Universe so far, and assuming that it will live 1000 times longer for 10^30 nanoseconds of compute time in the entire thing, we're down to a mere 10^1113 lifetimes of the Universe in order to brute force search the 4096 bit space, assuming that the encryption algorithm generates that much entropy out of the key and assuming that each elementary particle can do the entire computation required to test a key in a nanosecond. The point being that no, the NSA cannot crack any well-encrypted document without the well-chosen key. Not even if a mere 1024 bit key is used. Not even if a 512 bit key is used, although there one is finally reaching the space where weaknesses in the encryption algorithm and clever tricks might sometimes yield a faster solution. Really, even a 128 bit key is pretty safe (over 10^38 keys to search, so a billion computers searching a key a nanosecond would still take billions of years to search a significant fraction of the keyspace).

Also, YMMV -- any given encryption routine COULD have a hidden weakness, because the random number generator at its heart really does have far, far less entropy than the key suggests, and there may well exist unknown (or known only to the NSA) but true theorems that permit the encryption to be cracked with many orders of magnitude less effort. Witness the WEP versus WPA debacle in wireless -- a weak algorithm can easily be cracked even if the search space is nominally too large.

rgb

Re:Maybe, maybe not... (1)

TheTrueScotsman (1191887) | about 2 years ago | (#40360519)

It's quite simple: if they have quantum computers then RSA (and DSA) are toast and symmetric algorithms are reduced to the square root. So if you're using AES256 (but without public keys to exchange session keys), you're fine. If you're using AES128, you can be decrypted by medium-sized resources in the near future (and certainly NSA resources now).

Re:Maybe, maybe not... (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 2 years ago | (#40362335)

Yeah, the public key exchange algorithms I've never felt entirely comfortable with anyway, as they are the kind of thing where a clever theorem (or a clever advance in computing) could significantly reduce the search time even classically without Shor's algorithm (although I think we are still pretty far away from being able to implement Shor's algorithm in a practical, stable, computation on an actual RSA keypair, which is why I discount it as an issue in any system they might build right now). But I was referring to AES without public/private keypairs -- straight up encryption -- with very large keys. From what I've read recently, AES is still "unbroken" in the sense that one cannot really significantly beat a brute force search time, not by the orders of magnitude needed to make an attack feasible (although they do whittle away on it, finding specific weaknesses in specific keyspaces or implementations).

With that said, I'd be interested in how you compute/infer the scaling of AES128 decryption by NSA now. 10^38 is still a pretty big number compared to even petacycles of CPU, and one can hardly check a key in a single CPU cycle with a single machine. Dieharder returns something like 3x10^7 rands per second from AES used straight up as a random number generator, or ballpark 30 nsec per number (close to 100 CPU cycles per number). Even allowing 10 nsec per key (IMO an order of magnitude low) that's only 3x10^15 keys per core per year. Divided into 10^38, "that's a lot of cores" (10^18 core-years of computation). Even if you turned every CPU on the planet to the task, in other words, and they could all test a key every 10 nsec, I think it would take a lot of years, and I think there are orders of magnitude being left out of the compute time per key in reality, especially when testing a key against the actual decryption of the message.

So am I leaving something out of this estimate? Is there a non-brute-force algorithm that can significantly -- as opposed to marginally, an order of magnitude or so -- beat simply serially testing keys? NSA folks are bright, I'm sure, but they're stuck in the same universe that the rest of us are in, where a computer can only execute order of a billion instructions per second per core, and that is way too few to make 128 good bits of entropy manageable with search algorithms that take as little as nanoseconds per key tested.

With that said, hey, I personally prefer 1024 bit encryption keys. Belt and suspenders, I always say. And I keep my kiddie porn collection under 4096 bits -- can't be too safe. Of course, that leaves me stuck with spending the rest of my life in jail under a contempt of court citation if I don't decrypt it on the demand of some judge anyway... the point being that the real risk isn't that NSA will secretly decrypt 128-bit well-encrypted messages, it is that someone will use physical, economic, or other forms of coercion to force the exposure of the key. Or that some dunderhead will enter a key consisting of his initials and birthday repeated N times -- witness the longstanding success of "crypt" at password guessing. Or that somebody will prove a theorem that reduces the time required to generate the missing member of a prime key pair by ten or twenty orders of magnitude and suddenly expose the soft underbelly of SSL, RSA, and the internet in general to every pimple faced kid on the planet with an ipad to use as "CPU".

rgb

Re:Maybe, maybe not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360241)

The spy center is real. What kind of hardware they're putting in it is speculation.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358733)

Each time I read a story like this I can't help think there are a bunch of faster machines that they don't tell us about.

Each time I read a story like this, I can't help but wonder who gives a fuck. For quite some time now, computers like this have been budget constrained more than anything, so it's a pointless dick measuring contest.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (1, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40358769)

so it's a pointless dick measuring contest.

I don't see how that would matter. I'm pretty sure some guy from Uganda would win with or without including the point.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40362401)

Each time I read a story like this, I can't help but wonder why anyone who doesn't give a fuck even reads slashdot, let alone clicks on the story.

Today's building-sized supercomputer is tomorrow's smart phone. You'll have one of these babies on your desk in less than twenty years. Reason enough to gove a fuck?

Re:Conspiracy Nut (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40358971)

Here is a story outside of IT. There was a Chinese Pianist, he was very good, he always won Piano competitions. He went to America to work with some of the masters. They offered him a choice, does he want to become a better Pianist, or just keep winning awards. Being told these options really humbled him, in his mind, winning meant that you were the best. However it was a case in these competitions there were only a subset of skills that are measured, so if you just focused on what was graded then you can win the competition. However if you want to master your art, it is about working on other things as well, things that are not always part of the grading.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40359925)

Your comment is insightful, but reminds me of an old joke.

A guy walks into a bar with a box, which when opened was shown to contain a very tiny man playing a very tiny piano. The bartender says "that's pretty cool, how did you get that?"

"Well," says the patron, "I was walking down the beach and found a bottle, and when I opened it a genie came out and said in appreciation for freeing him, he would grant me a wish. So I wished for a twelve inch penis and got this guy.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#40359025)

You can map out the US interests via Atlas 1, Abel, Abner, Baker, then onto NOMAD- PITS storage, BOGART, CUB, HARVEST, then the IBM, Honeywell years.
Finally you have the megawatt power demand...
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1 [wired.com]
If you where really smart you could map out the voice, telex, fax, data bandwidth per landing/sat per year/decade and what kind of data the US sorted in real time.
Voice to text, text to dictionary, match and keep or dump.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360737)

It's not crazy at all to ask that question. There are bigger/faster systems in existence for sure. That's more or less a common knowledge assumption for those of us in the supercomputing industry, so it's not really even in doubt. The list also does not cover prototypical systems that various companies would be working on as future products to ship to customers after the kinks have been worked out. Typically though such machines are at nowhere near full scale, so while the tech will be the latest and greatest, they won't rank on the list simply because the machine doesn't have a large (by supercomputer standards) number of nodes. The stuff you see out in the market and on the list has surely been surpassed already by new tech that's in the company skunkworks, but no one can talk about it until the official release.

Re:Conspiracy Nut (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40362529)

they can tell you about horsepower but they wont tell you much about what the horsepower is being used for. thats the real secret.

absolutely nothing. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358615)

yes!

This amounts to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358657)

an international version of MY DICK IS BIGGER!!! Not all that interesting, but probably kind of smells funny.

Re:This amounts to (2)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 2 years ago | (#40358981)

Actually, the top 500 "competition/list" has been moderately useful for transitioning the world from big iron supercomputers sold by single corporations into the modern commodity/cluster (beowulf) model that costs far less and scales (as one can see) almost indefinitely large/fast for a certain class of linear or embarrassingly parallel problems. It is also the case that some of the problems that are solved using the larger of the computers built (which with the exception of corporate entries aren't really built "just for bragging rights") are both interesting and potentially of some value, either intellectual or monetary, to society. So it isn't, really, just a matter of bigger dicks (although the top ten does have a certain amount of that going on, where for decades some companies were conspicuous by their absence, and only got there eventually by basically building a machine with winning capacity and then giving it to somebody so that they could enter). Sometimes it is a matter of solving problems in nuclear physics or cosmology or cryptography or fluid dynamics that are NP complete or otherwise scale poorly enough that one is always hungry for cycles if one works in the field.

The question of whether or not the answers to those problems are worth the cost is a separate one, and by all means debate it, but be sure to do so in the context of all Big Instrumentation used in science. The LHC is a lot of money to -- maybe -- find the Higgs. Or not, again, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. NASA routinely spends/spent tens of billions of dollars to lift humans and e.g. the Hubble into orbit -- the Hubble gives us enormous amounts of wonderful science but very little of that science is of direct (as opposed to indirect) benefit to (say) automobile mechanics, lawyers, owners of restaurants, farmers. The cost of a top 500 machine is in comparison cheap, and in some cases may even work on problems with a measurable expectation value that trickles back to the society that ultimately pays for it (outside of the noble cause of supporting the education and research system that has created a truly enormous amount of very concrete wealth by providing work for otherwise unemployed physicists and computer scientists and mathematicians and funding for the many science and math departments that trained them and whose faculty participate). Personally, I think it is well worth it, but I've spent a good fraction of my life attached to that particular teat (although I'm not, currently) and don't pretend to be completely objective here.

I am, OTOH, pretty well informed about cluster computing, while having absolutely no dog in the top 500 race.

rgb

Wrong prize (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40358683)

I'd rather have a big fraction of our workforce be highly competent in mathematics, than have a computer that's marginally faster than any other.

One wins a pointless pissing match, the other provides a much more solid basis for real strength and prosperity.

Besides, all this really shows is that China will lend us enough money for us to buy computer components built an assembled throughout the world.

Re:Wrong prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358817)

Your lack of understanding of economics is staggering. And 16 petaflops vs 10 petaflops isn't what we would call "marginally" faster.

Re:Wrong prize (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40358891)

I don't normally respond to AC"s, but I'm intrigued by your response.

In what way did my post demonstrate a staggeringly poor understanding of economics?

Also, I disagree about the "marginal" claim. At least according to this source [singularity.com] , the computing power of top-end supercomputers doubles about every 1.2 years, and hardly a year goes by without a new super-computer coming online. So a 60% increase in performance is likely to keep the crown for no more than a year or two.

Re:Wrong prize (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | about 2 years ago | (#40359031)

How long it keeps the crown is irrelevant to your statement. Is a 60% increase only marginal or not? I'd say it's much more than marginal. You seem to be expressing a logical fallacy here to support your real point about wanting to care more about education. While you're at it, provide the citation that China provided the money explicitly earmarked for Sequoia, else you've simply made another baseless claim for your ulterior motive.

Re:Wrong prize (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40359131)

No, I think you're misunderstanding my point.

I call a 60% increase in computing power marginal because of the amount of time it is likely to hold the crown. I apologize for not being clearer about that.

Regarding the China funding, here you go [treasury.gov] , and also here [wikipedia.org] . Also, this is a year in which about 1/3 [wikipedia.org] of the Federal government's funding came from deficit spending (i.e., bond sales).

I was not claiming the China and only China paid fro Sequoia. I was pointing out that it a valid symbol of neither or technical prowess nor our economic prosperity.

Re:Wrong prize (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#40359303)

China more or less stopped buying US bonds a couple of years ago.

Now the US federal reserve buys any 'leftover' bonds at all the auctions, same as Europe's central bank does.

There is no 'market rate' for government interest. Only the central banks 'target rate' which are politically set.

We're all fucked. Buy hard assets.

Re:Wrong prize (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40359147)

I'd rather have a big fraction of our workforce be highly competent in mathematics

You can build a more powerful supercomputer, but you can't educate your workforce beyond their intelligence. Especially, when they have no desire to be educated.

You can overclock a processor. I haven't seen this successfully tested on humans yet. The results of own experiments with my Tesla Tower and the neighborhood kids were rather unpleasant.

Re:Wrong prize (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40359215)

You can overclock a processor. I haven't seen this successfully tested on humans yet. The results of own experiments with my Tesla Tower and the neighborhood kids were rather unpleasant.

I'll bet you forgot to first bathe them in liquid nitrogen. Don't feel bad - common newbie mistake.

Re:Wrong prize (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#40359327)

The top 25% do all the math anyhow. The USA's top 25% matches anybodies, but that is never reported. What is always reported is average or bottom 25% stats as they are scary numbers.

Re:Wrong prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360671)

I'd rather have a big fraction of our workforce be highly competent in mathematics, than have a computer that's marginally faster than any other.

Making a big fraction of our workforce highly competent in mathematics is far more expensive. Are you willing to pay for it?

Most people can not be bribed into learning math. You will have to punish those who fail. No one could survive an election after they institutred punishment for failing a differential equations class, so you will need to get rid of democracy. Most democracies have militaries that will resist your attempt to take over. Good luck defeating them.

Re:Wrong prize (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | about 2 years ago | (#40362527)

I think the supercomputer race is a very big deal. Even in a land whose people are marginally better at mathematics, they still just want to throw their problems at a faster computer. People who use math more will require quadratically or exponentially more computer speed because they want to solve more difficult problems not now but right now. They're not like, Gee I know math really well so I'm taking the day off, while people who don't know math need to use their electronic brains to do the thinking.

A country with more supercomputing is actually more likely to have the people that offer a greater "solid basis for real strength and prosperity."

... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358711)

Way to go !!

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

gapagos (1264716) | about 2 years ago | (#40358845)

You beat me to it. I wish I had mod points, I would rank you +5 Funny/Insightful.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (4, Insightful)

MikeMo (521697) | about 2 years ago | (#40359063)

Actually, Intel manufactures CPUs in many countries, including the US. Wherever they are made, it is Intel's technology and know-how that makes it possible to make them there. No one in China could have created the fab without that. I'd say that 100% of the technology in those super computers was created outside of China. The ability to manufacture the latest Xeon is in no way related to the ability to design one.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40359249)

But how far back to we go for giving design credit? To the Arabs, Persians, Greeks, or Egyptians for the fundamental mathematics used? My point is just that even if Intel pioneered this technology, it doesn't strongly imply much about the U.S.'s current prowess.

Also, I know Intel has chip design facilities at least in Israel. Not sure where else.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

equex (747231) | about 2 years ago | (#40359345)

It's the football fallacy. "My towns team won a football match so my entire town must be good, and me too."

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#40360213)

Intel has chip design facilities in the US and Israel. They only have two of them, at least for desktop processors and they alternate, so one designed whatever the current product is, one is working on the next. Part of how they keep their tick-tock process going.

Fabrication is mostly in the US. They do have one fab in Ireland, one in Israel (which is the latest 22nm tech) and a new one in China (which is much older 65nm tech) but the other 6 are in the US, with a 7th being built for 14nm in Chandler, AZ.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#40359269)

Also, this is a Blue Gene, meaning IBM, not Intel fabs.

Intel or POWER? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 years ago | (#40362293)

Was this supercomputer based on either Xeons or Itaniums, or was it based on POWER7? Does IBM fab POWER7 in China? I thought that it was all in fabs in the US, since they don't make too many of those.

On a separate note, since Intel hardly sells many Itaniums, it could take all the chips it could get out of 1 lot, and make a supercomputer based on that. Something like SGI's Altix.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (0)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#40359105)

So you'd prefer the components to be made here?
Feel like paying $3,000 for that Dell?

Because that's how much it would cost to make a PC if the factories that make the parts were in the US, dealing with US Environmental Regulations, US Taxes and having to pay US Workers who expect to be able to afford a McMansion and Porsche Cayenne for working in any aspect in the Tech Sector and would likely Unionize overnight.

The Days of Made in the USA are long over -- it's all about Globalization. The day Manufacturing returns en mass to the US is the day that they have Rapid Reproduction tech to the point that a car could be made from blocks of raw material and built to spec by a machine then rolled off the assembly line to a waiting self-driving truck waiting to take them to the local dealerships.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

IceNinjaNine (2026774) | about 2 years ago | (#40359647)

Because that's how much it would cost to make a PC if the factories that make the parts were in the US, dealing with US Environmental Regulations, US Taxes and having to pay US Workers who expect to be able to afford a McMansion and Porsche Cayenne for working in any aspect in the Tech Sector and would likely Unionize overnight

I think many of them would settle for a living wage (where I live that would be about fifteen bucks an hour) plus health care benefits. As far environmental regulations go, Chinese externalitles will have an effect. One of many articles about this. [cbsnews.com]

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40360639)

Funny, I seem to recall Dell doing much better before they moved their manufacturing to China.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#40361577)

Dell doesn't make the parts -- and it's the parts I was talking about. HDDs are made in Thailand and Indonesia, CPUs are made in Ireland and China, Mainboards and RAM are made abroad as well. These components contain heavy metals and require the use of toxic material to produce and as such, the environmental compliance costs, OSHA compliance, insurance fees for facility and workers and the inevitable EPA fines make it cost prohibitive.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360731)

having to pay US Workers who expect to be able to afford a McMansion and Porsche Cayenne for working in any aspect in the Tech Sector and would likely Unionize overnight.

How insightful! Any US worker that wants to be paid a living wage is categorized as someone that lives outside of their means by default.

Get over yourself, fagget.

Actually... (1)

Junta (36770) | about 2 years ago | (#40359265)

This was a BlueGene, meaning in all likelihood the processors and circuit boards were manufactured in New York. There were probably memory,storage, and other components sourced from southeast asia, but the most expensive bits probably were actually fabricated domestic.

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

Bevilr (1258638) | about 2 years ago | (#40359425)

Except, for the most part, its not. This is an Intel based super computer, and only one of Intel's eleven wafer fabs is in China (one is in Israel, one is in Ireland, and the rest in the US), and only two of its seven assembly plants (one in Vietnam, one is Costa Rica, and the rest in Malaysia). Further, the fab in China produces chipsets, not microprocessors. Sure, other parts like wiring, or the racks may be manufactured in China, but the most important (and by far most expensive) part of a parallel focused supercomputer like this is the cost of so many processors. Processors which were probably produced in Hillsboro, OR or Chandler, AZ. Source: http://download.intel.com/newsroom/kits/22nm/pdfs/Global-Intel-Manufacturing_FactSheet.pdf [intel.com]

Re:... WITH 100% CHINESE-SOURCED COMPONENTS !! (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#40359735)

No, it is not an Intel based supercomputer, it is POWER based. The processors were manufactured in Fishkill, NY, and the system was assembled in Rochester, MN.

Moore's Law (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 2 years ago | (#40358719)

If the head of supercomputing at IBM can't even get Moore's Law right, what the hell is he doing there? He seems to think that processor speed not increasing means Moore's Law is dying when in reality, Moore's Law has been doing pretty well for itself. Transistor density has been increasing and new breakthroughs I seem to see on /. every other day don't show it slowing down anytime soon... Turek sounds like an idiot or the journalist who wrote the article made him sound like one at least.

Re:Moore's Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358843)

Not really. The usefulness of Moore's law today compared to twenty years ago is much less. There's plenty of articles about this if you search for "the end of moore's law"

http://beta.fool.com/blackngold/2012/05/30/end-moores-law/5100/ [fool.com]

Re:Moore's Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40361969)

There's plenty of sugar; but there are plently of articles. Do you see the difference?

Re:Moore's Law (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#40359895)

Well, it used to be that the increased transistor density predicted by Moore's prediction (not a law in any sense) lead to faster processors. That has not been true for quite a while. So the guy is 100% right when he says you can't just wait for Moore's law to lead to faster processors. Today, the increased density is used to make more, not faster, processors. Using all those processors effectively is the challenge.

And yes, the limits of Moore's law will be hit in the relatively near future, possibly within a decade. If you are in charge of designing supercomputers you had better be well aware of that, and start preparing for it now. Which is exactly what IBM is doing.

e-penis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358763)

Useless computing cycles all for "having the biggest" one around.

They already have a practical use for the champ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358775)

Processing petabytes of clickstreams yielded from third party cookies to better identify hidden cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

More pointless dick waving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358819)

WHO CARES?

I guess they'll have fun playing Battlefield 3... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358833)

Highest resolutions, 60fps, 3D enabled. Wow!

Just curious: practical applications? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40358903)

What do you suppose are the top 5 practical applications for a 16 petaflop computer?

Re:Just curious: practical applications? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40359429)

Well, this one is intended for simulating nuclear weaponry. Basically testing nukes in a way that doesn't involve nuking ourselves.

does it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358905)

Does it run Nethack?

Yay we have pointles/useless bragging rights again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358907)

Just yet another "Ours is bigger than yours!" contest that doesnt change anything or do anything.

Id be happier if we had better health care, better education, better mathmatics, better economy or a dozen other things than having a faster computer. But then again I guess we dont have much anymore to laud over others so I suppose we should let the baby have its bottle.

nobody cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40358927)

nobody in the worlds gives a crap.

Re:nobody cares (0)

Fuck_this_place (2652095) | about 2 years ago | (#40359017)

nobody in the worlds gives a crap.

Probably hard to give a crap when your butt hurts so much. Addendum: Did they miss the memo? They just went into SPACE! That's like, something I remember some other country doing once, maybe, I forget.

Too bad... (2)

lilfields (961485) | about 2 years ago | (#40359039)

It's too bad these computers are in the hands of governments instead of people who could do something productive with them other than delegating processes to espionage, war, etc. Even if the computers did major calculations that could point to policy change in government, there are still politicians with motives and bureaucrats within agencies that have to protect their jobs...and hence would never use it productively. So, what's the point?

The fastest computer in the world is useless if it's not being used for a productive purpose.

Re:Too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40359897)

It's too bad these computers are in the hands of governments instead of people who could do something productive with them other than delegating processes to espionage, war, etc.

LLNL is operated by the University of California system, not the Feds. It does do a shit-ton of contract work for the government and military, but also does research for major universities and companies. Just like any big university research institution in the US.

I defy you to find any institution, whether governmental, nonprofit, educational, or corporate, in the USA that you think would make more "productive" use of a major HPC installation.

Re:Too bad... (1)

samilliken (1646567) | about 2 years ago | (#40360189)

LLNL is run by the University of California system? Is that why the URL is http://www.llnl.gov/ [llnl.gov] and the front page clearly states that it is run by the DOE for the National Nuclear Safety Administration?

Re:Too bad... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360705)

LLNL is run by the University of California system? Is that why the URL is http://www.llnl.gov/ [llnl.gov] and the front page clearly states that it is run by the DOE for the National Nuclear Safety Administration?

It does not say that it is "run by the DOE." You made that up, or are illiterate. It says it is run for the DOE:

Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration

And it says that because the DOE owns the lab, which is operated by contract:

https://www.llnl.gov/about/mgtsponsors.html [llnl.gov]

The LLNS management team includes Bechtel National, University of California, Babcock and Wilcox, Washington Division of URS Corporation, and Battelle.

Government Owned, Contractor Operated. The Laboratory is a government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) facility managed through a contract between the LLNS Board of Governors and the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

(Emphasis theirs.)

In case you're wondering, here's what LLNS, LLC (http://www.llnsllc.com/ [llnsllc.com] ) has to say for itself:

Our team includes Bechtel National, University of California, Babcock and Wilcox, the Washington Division of URS Corporation, and Battelle. Our cutting-edge science is enhanced through the expertise of the University of California and its ten campuses and our team's affiliation with The Texas A&M University System.

(Emphasis mine.)

You may also find the History section [llnl.gov] enlightening.

Re:Too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40362037)

I interned at LLNL for a while, and the situation is kind of weird. LLNL and LBL were both run by UC, but performance metrics weren't working out or something and LLNL went private as Lawrence Livermore National Security (albeit as a private company with one very specific customer). So basically LLNS runs LLNL for the DoE, as administered by NNSA christ my poor keyboard.

LLNL computers do plenty of things other than nuke modelling, by the way. For example, trying to model the fracture networks created by fracking to keep them away from aquifers, and work on modeling turbulence around wind generators.

Re:Too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40359903)

And what would the "people" do with it? Play minecraft or crysis?

Re:Too bad... (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#40360649)

Exactly. Do you have any idea how many World of Warcraft bots I could be running on one of those farming me gold?

Re:Too bad... (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | about 2 years ago | (#40362557)

The point is that the little guy is not going to "invest" in a faster computer until government shows that the faster computer is actually a game changer. The government is the economic guinea pig.

PETAflops (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 2 years ago | (#40359315)

and to meet peta meta-requirements, no cute kittens or bunnies were flopped or otherwise harmed in the building of this superb computer.

Interesting thing (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40359421)

Just a little interesting thing I noticed while reading up on this.

Most American media refers to it as an "American" supercomputer first and foremost, and an "IBM" supercomputer second.
Most non-American media refers to it as an "IBM" supercomputer first, and an "American" supercomputer second.

Not really wrong either way - it's a big win for both the US and for IBM - but it's interesting to see the little differences.

What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (2)

Acapulco (1289274) | about 2 years ago | (#40359493)

Seriously, if they are migrating to new supercomputers, what, each year or two, what are they doing with the "scraps"? Do they refurbish them to be used elsewhere? do they sell them as "used goods" to other companies?

I can imagine taking quite a bit of time to install/uninstall such installations, so if its going to stay 2 years and it takes 3 months to setup/remove, are the installation/uninstallation crews constantly on site? or maybe it takes much less time to do so?

does anyone has any idea on this? I mean, that's a lot of stuff to "just" throw away when upgrading. Something useful must be done with the "obsolete" equipment, no?

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40359603)

These supercomputers are used for 5-7 years. When they get a new one they don't stop using the previous one; they probably have enough work to keep everything busy. By the time they stop using one it's worthless due to poor power efficiency and probably gets recycled.

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (1)

Acapulco (1289274) | about 2 years ago | (#40359845)

Wow, so they keep adding space to their facilities to add more and more supercomputers? it figures that they use it at least that long, and of course i would guess that lower priority projects get moved to the "obsolete" machines, as the big guns are moved to the newest and latest, but at some point you have to discard them. SO are they absolutely of no use after 10 years or so?

Thanks for the answer AC, I really had no idea about the life span of one of these monsters.

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40360781)

I did the math a while ago - a 20-year-old supercomputer is about as powerful as a modern 1U server, or maybe a really high-end workstation (at least going by Dhrystone benchmarks). But still using the supercomputer-sized room and supercomputer-sized power consumption.

I can't be assed to do the precise research, but I would estimate that a 10-year-old supercomputer would be about as powerful as a small cluster. But, again, a small cluster that sucks down several megawatts and takes up a small building. There's not really much you can do with it that you can't do better with a smaller number of modern computers. Eventually the cost of building a new, same-performance but lower-power system is less than your annual power budget.

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (5, Interesting)

samilliken (1646567) | about 2 years ago | (#40359869)

The CRAY supercomputers are actually blade chassis, so you can do several generations of upgrades just by updating the blades. When we do have a to replace more components, the old parts are shipped back to CRAY for recycling. When the upgrade is more of a forklift upgrade, we will sometimes run them in parallel. This is what happened between Jaguar and Jaguar-PF. Jaguar was sent back to CRAY last year so that we can make room for whatever will replace Titan (the blade level upgrade of Jaguar-PF). We have about 10 on-site CRAYons at all times at ORNL, and when we have a large upgrade process happening, extras are brought in. At some point you do have to look at the Watts/Flop of the old systems, and you will get to a tipping point where it's simply too costly to continue running on the old equipment. When you're pulling down systems measured in Megawatts, you have to.

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (1)

Acapulco (1289274) | about 2 years ago | (#40360085)

Great! an even more specific response. This is why I love /., at somepoint *someone* has been there, or at least close enough, to give a realistic answer. If I had mod points (and hadn't posted yet) I'd give you some :)

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40362477)

>This is why I love /.

Let's not start sucking eachother's dicks just yet.

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about 2 years ago | (#40360449)

Most of the obsolete supercomputers are broken up an reused, or in a few cases sent to museums ...

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (1)

mapuche (41699) | about 2 years ago | (#40360769)

At least when my university (unam.mx) buys a computer and their lifetime ends, technicians come and scrap all the electronics leaving an empty shell. As in the case of software it seems you don't own the computer, you're only leasing the technology, this may vary with technology developed with money from the US goverment.

Re:What happens to the "obsolete" supercomputers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40361361)

I am not sure about the American one, but I was recently asked if I would want to run some simulations on the Chinese Tianhe 1A. These machines are just large clusters and they are not scrapped after they lose the supercomputing crown, but continue to be used to run science and industry simulations.

Holy shit - BOTH #1 and #2 are RISC-based! (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 2 years ago | (#40360425)

I just now learned that Sequoia is based on POWER CPUs. And #2 I already knew is based on SPARC.

This doesn't mean much for RISC, perhaps, but at least some bragging rights.

Re:Holy shit - BOTH #1 and #2 are RISC-based! (2)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40360871)

RISC and CISC are no longer really meaningful distinctions. The new POWER systems have a lot of non-RISCy SIMD extensions and such, as do the SPARCs used in the K supercomputer. Likewise, the modern CISC processors (read: x86) have become more RISC-like, at least internally.

I actually think the modern x86 way is a really good compromise (although the x86 implementation of the idea ranges from terrible to tolerable). Internally, use a simple, efficient RISC-like micro-op processor, while presenting a CISC-like interface to the rest of the system. You get most of the advantages of both (the speed of RISC, the instruction density of CISC) as well as some unique ones (as long as you keep the CISC layer the same, you can change the internals all you want while keeping full software compatibility). The only significant downside is a small loss of die space for the translator (usually only a few percent of the die (half of which is usually a massive L3 cache anyways)).

Now if only that CISC layer wasn't the mess known as x86-64...

Re:Holy shit - BOTH #1 and #2 are RISC-based! (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 2 years ago | (#40361951)

The problem with that translator is, it's always working. Many parts of the CPU will be idle at any time or the other, but the translator, as small as it is (not too small), it'll always consume some power. That is a very unambiguous disadvantage of CISC-outerly archs, while we might argue about the rest.

Muahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360597)

All your encryption are belong to us!

Chinese grad students will have it copied in a wee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40360721)

Chinese grad students will have it copied in a week. Cheap cheap top quality since the components are all from China anyway ;)

something else (1)

ilguido (1704434) | about 2 years ago | (#40360797)

I think there's also something else that's noteworthy: only three US based supercomputers in the top 10. Is it an all time low?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...