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Virginia Tech to Build Top 5 Supercomputer?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the computer-hogs dept.

Apple 460

hype7 writes "ThinkSecret is running a story which might explain exactly why the Dual 2GHz G5 machines have been delayed to the customers that ordered them minutes after the keynote was delivered. Apparently, Virginia Tech has plans to build a G5 cluster of 1100 units. If it manages to complete the cluster before the cut-off date, it will score a Top 5 rank in the Linpack Top 500 Supercomputer List. Both Apple and the University are playing mum on the issue, but there's talk of it all over the campus."

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460 comments

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I would like to join. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835444)

I specialize in fucking gay black dogs. Will this qualify me?

Just imagine,... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835419)

...a Beowulf cluster of....

Oh wait, it is a cluster. DAMN!!!!!

Re:Just imagine,... (1)

AchmedHabib (696882) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835553)

yeah yeah yeah, but imagine a beowulf cluster of that cluster!

confirmed: I just shat all over myself (-1, Redundant)

confucio-licious (555476) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835420)

I can't believe I just took a shit in my pants at work. What the fuck? I cant stand up and take it to the restroom, because I am wading in a puddle of feces at this very moment. Any change in my seating position will send my poo spilling down my legs and into my socks and shoes. There is no way I can play this off as a fart. It doesn't help at all that I've been spun out for 3 days. I can hardly see straight! How am I possibly going to explain this to my Supervisor when she comes over here to ask me what the fuck I just did in the presence of my employer? She'll make me drop trau in front of everyone again. There it is. The person in the cubicle to the right of me just asked if I could smell "that". I gotta go.

Re:confirmed: I just shat all over myself (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835531)

Don't panic. Phone somebody you know and trust and get them to set off the fire alarm. While everybody traipses outside you can sneak off to the restroom, dispose of the "evidence" and fashion some temporary trousers out of paper towels. If anyone, upon returning to the office, should challenge you about your unconventional dress sense, shout "WHAT, ARE YOU DRUNK OR SOMETHING?" and storm out in a huff.

Well, it worked for me anyway.

G5 to the power of 1100!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835422)

Worthwhile the wait.

Re:G5 to the power of 1100!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835614)

But will it be as fast as a modern AMD chip?

Agriculture! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835424)

I suppose this gives new meaning to the term Computer Farm!

Re:Agriculture! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835468)

Actually, this fits the old definition of Computer Farm....

Dear Apple, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835428)

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What? (-1, Flamebait)

thedogcow (694111) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835431)

Slashdot posting vaporware news from an unreliable (Thinksecret et al) source?

Get the fuck out of here.

Re:What? (4, Informative)

inkswamp (233692) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835457)

Slashdot posting vaporware news from an unreliable (Thinksecret et al) source?

I take it you don't look at Think Secret on a regular basis. It is, easily, the most accurate Mac rumors site out there. In fact, they have posted info on numerous occasions that has caught the attention of Apple's lawyers, and have been forced to pull down and issue their standard disclaimer. Say what you will about other rumors sites (most of them simply feed off each other) but there are some startlingly reliable sources informing Think Secret. Frankly, I don't recall the last time they were wrong about anything they've posted.

Re:What? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835560)

What about iWalk? And their WWDC coverage was like 50% accurate.

Re:What? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835578)

"I don't recall the last time they were wrong about anything they've posted"

iWorks.

Re:What? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835621)

Frankly, I don't recall the last time they were wrong about anything they've posted.
How about this report? [thinksecret.com] I'm still waiting, nearly a fortnight later, after they said "one Apple retail source said the new 15-inch and 17-inch models are expected to arrive later this week".

Not! (2, Interesting)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835499)

Of all the Macintosh rumor websites, Think Secret [thinksecret.com] is, by far, one of the most reliable sites I've seen. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be investing $1,200 a year in them for their message board [thinksecret.com] . Of course, if you think you can do better... ;-)

wow man! (-1, Redundant)

mike77 (519751) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835432)

dude, imagine a beowulf cluster of... oh.. wait a minute...

Re:wow man! (1, Offtopic)

karmavore (618727) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835454)

Dude, you're getting alot of Dell's!!!!!

is that so? (2, Funny)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835433)

there's talk of it all over the campus ....and we all know how reliable campus rumors are! C'mon guys, don't forget to say hi to the Olson twins when you see them on campus next year!

Re:is that so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835558)

There is a REAL STORY linked asshole.

Re:is that so? (4, Funny)

daeley (126313) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835619)

C'mon guys, don't forget to say hi to the Olson twins when you see them on campus next year!

Wow! Imagine a Beowulf cluster of...

Er, ah, forget I said anything.

What about latency? (2, Interesting)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835434)

That's the one thing that favors huge amounts of processors in the same box. All this "the internet is one giant distributed computer" doesn't acknowledge this. A box designed to be separate just will not have the latency advantage of a supercomputer designed from the ground up.

Re:What about latency? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835505)

Who builds 2-8K processors in a box? Have you thought for a second what it might take to power or cool this? Or if it could be wired? The actual engineering of actually doing this are much more challenging than talking crap on Slashdot.

You win the moron of the article award. Congrats.

Re:What about latency? (3, Insightful)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835601)

-You win the moron of the article award. Congrats.

Now you are one optimistic AC. The day is still young. I am giving 30:1 odds that there are going to be way better morons than Thinkit3 before this thread is archived.

Parent is stupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835526)

You obviously know very little about distributed computing.

Latency isn't the most paramount issue, otherwise render farms and clusters wouldn't be as popular as they were today.

and lets not forget about projects like distributed.net and Seti@Home. Latency is not at all the concern for them.

Re:What about latency? (3, Interesting)

andrewl6097 (633663) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835579)

Actually, the amount of cache coherency checking needed in a large shared memory machine drives the latency right up. Besides, myrinet is ~15 usec latency. That's pretty goot for most things.

Re:What about latency? (5, Informative)

purdue_thor (260386) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835606)

>> A box designed to be separate just will not have the latency advantage of a supercomputer designed from the ground up.
I suggest you look at the list of the top supercomputers [top500.org] in the world. Most are clusters, ie. separate, distinct machines (just a quick glance shows the top 25 all are). It's just too darn hard to make a shared memory computer with 1000's of processors. So the common architecture is to make a cluster of smaller shared memory machines.

Besides, most clusters built utilize special interconnects like Myrinet that offer low latency connections. They're more expensive than ethernet, but it's a supercomputer so you spend it.

>> All this "the internet is one giant distributed computer" doesn't acknowledge this.
On the contrary... people know this very well. That's why we see rendering and SETI processing as distributed. They don't really need to communicate with others often.

Re:What about latency? (5, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835622)

There are tradeoffs actually. This isn't like distributed.net or seti@home, this is a controlled network. They have complete control over the network switches, technology, and topology used and can design the network to accomodate tho problems the cluster will be designed to solve.
For example, you could use Myrinet to get 2 Gigabit, super low latency connectivity, or Quadrix, or Infiniband, or just a well laid out Gigabit Ethernet with high end switches.

In multiple processors in a box, the processors have to fight for the resources that box has to offer. NUMA alleviates demand on the memory, but IO operations (when writing to disk or to network) in a multiprocessor box block a good deal as the processor count in a node rises.

The idea with clusters is that inter-node communication in most cases can be kept low. Each system can work on a HUGE chunk of a problem on its own, with its own dedicated hard drive, memory subsystem, and without having too much competition for the network card. A lot of problems are really hard to solve computation wise, but are *very* well suited to distributed computing. A prime example of this is rendering 3D movies. Perhaps oversimplifying things, but for the most part, a central node divides up discrete parts (a segment of video), and each node works without talking to others until done, so the negative impact is minimal. Certain problems (i.e. nuclear explosion simulations where time and spacial chunks interact more with one another) are much more sensitive to latency/throughut. Seti@Home and distributed.net are *extremely* apathetic to throughput/latency issues (not much traffic and very infrequent communication).

Re:What about latency? (4, Insightful)

Aapje (237149) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835624)

It all depends on what you need the cluster for. Some computations need constant communication, others can go on for hours, days or even weeks without feedback. If you're smart, you use supercomputers for the first kind of tasks and clusters for the second kind.

Universities (and big business) often work together and exchange resources. Virginia Tech gets a large amount of bargaining power by having control over a large amount of processing power. They can easily trade CPU time on their cluster for CPU time on a low-latency supercomputer.

Hmmm... (4, Funny)

Undaar (210056) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835435)

"Both Apple and the University are playing mum on the issue, but there's talk of it all over the campus."

Must be a pretty boring campus...

Re:Hmmm... (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835484)

Ain't a whole lot going on in Blacksburg, Va. My brother is a physics student there. Wonder if he'll take me to see it if I buy him some beer.

Run Photoshop ! (4, Funny)

orthopodreloaded (701266) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835436)

Are they gonna run Photoshop on that supercomputer ?

Re:Run Photoshop ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835540)

As it turns out, real men (and this excludes
you) know how to program computers in assembly
to make them run programs other than the
software your mommy and daddy bought you for
your lil' mac computer.

1100 G5s still can't... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835437)

play Doom III.

It should be enough (-1)

DarthVeda (569302) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835463)

It's a G5 right? Then it should be enough to run Wolfenstein. Oh did they release that for MAC? I can't remember.

Dear Father O'Day: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835439)

Dear Father O'Day:
Thanks for your letter. Being Catholic myself, I know exactly what you're talking about! It has always been our plan here at Apple Computer Inc to revolutionize personal computing with our high-quality and highly gay products.

I'm happy to answer your letter by letting you know that YES we will be releasing an entire hLife ("homo-life") software line. You'll be able to recognize it in stores by the small stylized logo depicting a large cock entering a tight anus with an Apple logo on it. ("Suddenly it all comes together" indeed!).

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Sincerely,

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Vice-president
Homosexual Liaison Services
Apple Computer, Inc.

school children speculating ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835445)


say it aint so

remember to hand in that homework !

As a VT student... (4, Informative)

Julius X (14690) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835450)

but there's talk of it all over campus.

Funny, I haven't heard anything about it prior to today. Guess I'm just out of the loop then...

Re:As a VT student... (1)

An'Desha Danin (666568) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835485)

You're not the only one, I haven't heard squat about it. Might be 'cause I've only been here two weeks, but whatever.

In any case, this is nifty. I have absolutely no idea what they're going to use it for, but if I find it I'm dropping Half-Life 2 onto it.

Re:As a VT student... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835574)

I work for the University Computing Support department, and I have heared about this over a month and a half ago. Its just that not many people where arund back then, since classes were out of session.

Re:As a VT student... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835616)

I guess he meant to say there's talk of it all over Apple-users on campus. All 6 of them.

That's just Hokie (4, Funny)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835452)

And it'll get skunked by 40 teraflops by Duke's supercomputer every year!

Problems with my supercomputer. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835456)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is it with you with you G5 zealots? Ive been sitting at my 1100 CPU G5 supercomputer for 20 minutes as it computers a fast fourier transform of an 8Ghz guassian. 20 minutes! At home, on my 60 cpu linux beowulf cluster, the same operation would take 2 minutes if that. Also, while this operation is takiing place, Doom III won't start, and everything else grinds to a halt, even my multithreaded emacs is struggling to keep up as i type this.

My Sun Enterprise 5000 is faster than this machine at times. Super computer addicts, flame me if you want, but I'd rahter hear some inteligent reasons why I should use the G5 supercomputer over cheaper, faster clusters.

Re:Problems with my supercomputer. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835500)

Doom III won't start

Doom III isn't out yet.

flame me if you want

'kay. Wanker.

but I'd rahter hear some inteligent reasons why I should use the G5 supercomputer over cheaper, faster clusters.

Well, you see, 5 is a bigger number than 4, and intel is stuck at 4, so ours is better. And AMD doesn't even *do* numbers!

Re:Problems with my supercomputer. (2, Funny)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835516)

Are you buy any chance the guy emailing out these spams [aboleo.net] ?

Re:Problems with my supercomputer. (3, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835544)

even my multithreaded emacs is struggling to keep up as i type this.

May I suggest you stop emacs to free resources for your FFT?

Re:Problems with my supercomputer. (5, Funny)

Viadd (173388) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835636)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is it with you with you G5 zealots? Ive been sitting at my 1100 CPU G5 supercomputer for 20 minutes as it computers a fast fourier transform of an 8Ghz guassian.

And what's with having only 1100 mouse buttons? At the price they're charging, why didn't Apple provide 2200 mouse buttons and 1100 scroll wheels. And why did they use a dead operating system like BSD anyway?

Re:Problems with my supercomputer. (0)

andrewski (113600) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835639)

Your problem is that you wussed out and bought the cheap one.

Of COURSE you need the DP machine! DUH! Are you fucking retarded, or just humorless?

Linpack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835461)

Sorry, but I gave up FORTRAN oh, about 25 years ago.

Re:Linpack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835493)

Sorry, but I gave up FORTRAN oh, about 25 years ago.

No you didn't. People who are old enough to know Fortran know better than hang around /. and post unfunny comments as AC.

Macs ? (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835462)

Virginia Tech placed the dual-2GHz G5 order shortly after the G5 was announced. Multiple sources said Virginia Tech has ordered 1100 units

Wow, that'll make Apple's quarter for sure :-)

Seriously though, why PowerMacs ? I've always been under the impression that intelloid machines are the cheapest commodity hardware around for equivalent processing power, if not the most exciting. Would anybody know why Powermac G5s are a better choice here?

(Note to computer zealots: it's not a flamebait, it's a genuine question, from someone who is rigorously ignorant of the Mac world. And just in case, the first sentence is a joke, too ...)

Re:Macs ? (5, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835498)

Altivec. Certain types of vector code when compiled to only run on a G4 outperform a pentium even at 3+x the ghz range (i.e. a 800 mhz G4 beating a 3ghz PIV). Assuming similar numbers for the G5 and the increase across the board on all the non vector operations + the fact that the 970 work together so much better....

I can see it making a lot of sense. NASA and lots of bio companies use the G4s this way.

AltiVec (3, Interesting)

charnov (183495) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835583)

While the AltiVec unit is very impressive, The SSE2 unit on the P4 or the Opteron would have nearly the same performance and cost a whole heck of a lot less (I am betting if this rumor is true at all, then Apple has given the units to the school).

What I am wondering is, what OS is this cluster going to run? I mean, have the BSD folks figured out how to scale? No chance it will be OS X...maybe AIX?

Re:AltiVec (4, Informative)

Space Coyote (413320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835630)

While the AltiVec unit is very impressive, The SSE2 unit on the P4 or the Opteron would have nearly the same performance and cost a whole heck of a lot less (I am betting if this rumor is true at all, then Apple has given the units to the school).

Real world numbers don't bear this out. Check out the Photoshop and other application performance numbers for this. The gcc version used by the SPEC benchmarks used by Apple didn't even take advantage of AltiVec. When accounted for, and any institution making such a purchase would definitely have considered this, the AltiVec-enabled PowerPC chips totally spank x86 and others in number crunching tasks.

What I am wondering is, what OS is this cluster going to run? I mean, have the BSD folks figured out how to scale? No chance it will be OS X...maybe AIX?

An OS doesn't need to 'scale' to be a member of a cluster. It just needs to run the code locally and send the result back to the cluster master node.

Re:AltiVec (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835631)

SSE2 and Altivec are not identical, so there's still areas where a G4/G5 would (and does) thrash an intel-anything to pieces - the same can happen with other areas where the Pentium would kill the PPC.

One example is in RC5-72 crunching. My plain old consumer eMac can crunch 10.47 million keys per second using altivec. It's not even an optimal architecture for getting all the data through to the altivec unit (133mhz bus etc). The fastest x86 based box doesn't come -near- that. (see http://n0cgi.distributed.net/speed/ for stats)

That's one extreme case, and possible the most extreme one. Only knowing the final purpose for the VT cluster would reveal just how sensible picking PPC machines is.

Re:Macs ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835612)

Since Altivec cannnot do double precision there is NO WAY this cluster will end of as number 5 on the top500.

The rules are extremely clear: the ranking is based on high performance parallel LINPACK in DOUBLE PRECISION.

Re:Macs ? (2, Insightful)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835635)

True, but it is entirely possible that they are building this for more than just to say "we have a computer on the top list and you all sux0r5". They are depending on the dual-floating point units on the G5 for LINPACK and AltiVec for whatever else they put it to.

Without more details its hard to tell

Re:Macs ? (1)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835514)

Especially if you're going floating-point based math, the cost-per-crunched-number is actually lower for the dual-G5 tower than it is for a Xeon-based system that costs more anyway.

Re:Macs ? (5, Interesting)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835518)

why PowerMacs?

A couple of things make them suitable for clustering:
* There's heaps of processor-processor bandwidth and memory bandwidth.
* On board gigabit ethernet.
* Monster fast execution of properly written vector code.
* Well designed cooling.

Of course, the bang/buck ratio could be an issue for some debate but there's little doubt that in comparison to other commercial unices it's an absolute bargain.

Dave

Re:Macs ? (5, Insightful)

damiam (409504) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835542)

For certain types of processing (rc5 cracking is one example), Macs completely smoke PCs. For example, distributed.net stats show that a 667Mhz G4 can process more keys/second than a 2.8Ghz P4. Considering how much faster a 2Ghz G5 would be, a 1100-node cluster would be damn powerful if you were doing work that mapped well onto Altivec.

Re:Macs ? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835577)

This isn't fair though, the P4 sucks. If anything compare the G4 to an Athlon. The athlon has single cycle rotates [unlike the POS P4 processor]. :-)

Also these "G4 vs. P4" comparisons. Do they use the most of both processors or is this an Altivec vs. x86-alu comparison? [or vice versa].

Tom

Re:Macs ? (1)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835552)

My guess is that Apple gave them a discount in exchange for the marketing stunt.

Re:Macs ? (4, Interesting)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835617)

1) As others have mentioned, AltiVec and the dual-FPU on the G5 probably were significant factors in this decision. The Earth Simulator is comprised of processors that are very slow at most tasks, but are designed to scream at vector-optimized code and, honestly, AltiVec makes SSE2 and 3Dnow! look like toys by comparison.

2) You would be hard pressed to configure a dual-opteron or dual-Xeon which could trounce the G5 in terms of speed and cost significantly less. MacOS X server also costs less than any version of windows (pure capital cost here for an 1100 seat license), which may also have factored in.

3) My guess is that they have struck a fairly significant deal with Apple (even so low as Apple provides them at cost, though I doubt its quite that low) in exchange for some degree of publicity when this thing is built.

Do they have a need for it? (0, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835471)

I might be wrong, but I think VT is a public school. Why do they need the 5th most powerful cluster in the world? How about lowering tuition? Does the school really not need anything else more than a cluster? In 5 years, will it still be worth the money they are paying? Is there an immediate need to the cluster?

Re:Do they have a need for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835515)

I would assume that if this is true the money came from some sort of donation (specifically for this), a grant (again, specifically for this), or some other means outside of money that is allotted for student funding.

Re:Do they have a need for it? (4, Informative)

absoluthokie (694231) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835568)

Exactly, Virginia tech has a goal to become a top 30 research university. Having known about the plan for some time, this makes perfect sense. The departments who are building the cluster, have gotten very large grants and donations from our great alumni to build this, and become a better university for it. This construction can be compared to the stadium expansions. The stadium expansion is paid out of a different set of funds, as is research. Academic fund is hurting because alumni rarely give money for academic reasons, but more for football or research.

Re:Do they have a need for it? (2, Informative)

harks (534599) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835563)

Schools have many different accounts set up to fund many different things. This is due to how donors donate money and specify that they want it to go toward a certian project or department. One department, say the CS department might have recieved donations from CS alumni. Also, having large projects like this can generate lots of revenue through grants.

Re:Do they have a need for it? (5, Interesting)

Kibo (256105) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835604)

The grant money that flows into a public research and occasionally teaching institution can be stagering, and absolutely dwarf the money students pay in tuition (sometimes by a factor of 10!). A better question might be, why don't the gradstudents donating their labor, possibly to patents that will be controlled by the university, recieve more consideration, and fair labor law protections.

But I would bet this will be not too dissimilar in use from the HP Itanium2 referenced earlier on slashdot. I would bet one of the paramount concerns this cluster would look at is the effect of farm runoff, and probably climatology too among other things.

I'm a Hokie (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835473)

The best thing is, they were asking for volunteers to put this thing together. I signed up for a 4 hour shift next week! I'm so excited!

Re:I'm a Hokie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835529)

well you cant beat free labour, worked with the niggers so as long as you call the tutor masser you should be ok

Re:I'm a Hokie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835535)

no, you're an idiot, now instead of paying someone they get it for free, great move i cant wait till you do the same for starbucks

So, do they smoke alot of crack at VT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835478)

I'm pretty sure using G5's is nowhere near having good price/performance.

who the fuck cares? really? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835480)

i'm going to masturbate twenty times today. let's see that on /.

Actually they're not that mum (5, Informative)

Nefrayu (601593) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835481)

I got the following email the other day:
Virginia Tech is in the process of building a Terascale Computing Cluster which will be housed in the Andrews Information Systems Building (AISB). For those who are interested in learning more about this project, we will host an information session on Thursday, September 4th from 11 a.m. to noon in the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center auditorium.
We look forward to seeing you there
Terry Herdman Director of Research Computing.


I'll try to remember to take notes on this and let you all know if there's anything interesting...

PENN STATE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835486)

yeA!! psu is #72!!!!!!

Not fast enough (2, Informative)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835491)

By my count, they'll have an R_peak of 8800 GFLOPS; unless they've got more efficient linpack code than anyone else, that will put them around 7th or 8th place.

yeah, it will be fast, until.... (0)

HomerJ (11142) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835502)

It goes head to head with Pitt's supercomputer here [psc.edu] . Then it will be crushed and all the time/energy will be wasted.

Talk of it all over campus? (5, Funny)

Control-Z (321144) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835504)

there's talk of it all over the campus

Yeah, chicks dig massive...computers.

No wait, no they don't!

Re:Talk of it all over campus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835628)

Wasn't there a former dude who became a chick who wrote some seminal work on VLSI design or something.

So there are chicks who dig compters. They just used to be guys. Sorry.

Memory (2, Informative)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835513)

One thing against clusters rather than machines designed for the ground up is memory access. If on a n Single System Image (SSI) system is that any node can access memory of another over fast internconnects. With a cluster the memory has to be transfered over ethernet which even if using 10GB Ethernet is still a number of magnitudes lower than memory

Rus

Sounds familiar... (2, Interesting)

jettoblack (683831) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835523)

Right after the Sony Playstation 2 launch, there was a big shortage. Several media stories blamed it on some "unnamed" Middle East country buying them all up to power their missles and supercomputers (because, the rumor claimed, the PS2 was just so powerful).

Wonder if Apple is trying to "pull a Sony" here...

Emporium (1)

maukdaddy (244282) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835525)

They're probably all just for the emporium and everyone thinks they're for a super computer ;)

Hokies will know what I mean!

Re:Emporium (1)

absoluthokie (694231) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835580)

Actually... they are supposed to be getting some G5s for the Emporium :-D. These though are headed for the ISB, the Emporium isnt getting duals, probably 1.8 or 1.6ghz machines.

In a letter to CS majors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835537)

According to a CS major I know they sent out a letter earlier today asking any CS majors to help out with the system. One should also keep in mind that tech has the largest student computer lab in the world -- with almost 600 flat panel imacs (700mhz, maybe 512 of ram I don't recall).

This is being discussed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835545)

on the Goatse INFO [goatse.info] message boards

What operating system will they be using? (3, Interesting)

Sonicboom (141577) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835549)


The article makes no mention of the operating system that will be running on this supercomputer. I for one would like to see them get this done w/ OS X rather than use GNU/Linux.

Re:What operating system will they be using? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835567)

1T'S N0T GNU/L1NUX Y0U STALLMAN W0RSH1P1NG ZEAL0T!

Here is proof! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835550)

Got this to my vt E-mail addres a few days ago:

Hello all,

This email is to serve as invitation and notice of impending Terascale
Facility assembly assistance. For those receiving this info for the
first time know that Virginia Tech is building a top 10 supercomputer
from scratch and we need your assistance. We do have one stipulation
to volunteerism and that is you must not be a wage employee of the
university. Grad students on GTA/GRA are fine as well as others
outside the university that may wish to volunteer.

We are expecting to receive machines next week!!! Yikes! In
preparation for the assembly process, we need to get volunteers
together at the AISB (Andrews Information Systems Building), 1700 Pratt
Dr., this weekend. We are planning to have a process orientation
session start at 10:00 AM on Saturday, August 30, and last no longer
than an hour. We can give you a few more details about the project if
you show up and have not been before. :-)

There are many things that need to be covered and many new volunteers
needed. We have posted an electronic sign-up sheet for proposed shifts
at http://mm-server01.multimedia.vt.edu:9000/sign-up/ We will need
folks to sign-up as either a primary volunteer or on-call/backup person
that we can call and bring in if we are short people. We know this is
a very busy time for everyone and we want to get this done and over
with quickly so it will not affect other work that needs to be done
across campus. Once we have a definite date for the deliveries we will
send out notification to those folks that said they were available on
that day. We will have 48 hours notice of shipment, 72 hours notice of
delivery. The machines will arrive on a staggered, every other day,
schedule. Three shipments are expected for the total number of
machines.

Please forward this message to any and all listserves where we might
recruit additional volunteers. Have them respond to my email address
multimedia@vt.edu or sign-up using the above URL. It's crunch time and
we sure could use the many folks that said they could help and have yet
to pitch in. We need you now more than ever!

Thank you all,

- Jason

I get to help build it =D (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835555)

In my email the other day, I received this letter:
Hello all,


This email is to serve as invitation and notice of impending Terascale Facility assembly assistance. For those receiving this info for the first time know that Virginia Tech is building a top 10 supercomputer from scratch and we need your assistance. We do have one stipulation to volunteerism and that is you must not be a wage employee of the university. Grad students on GTA/GRA are fine as well as others outside the university that may wish to volunteer.

We are expecting to receive machines next week!!! Yikes! In preparation for the assembly process, we need to get volunteers together at the AISB (Andrews Information Systems Building), 1700 Pratt Dr., this weekend. We are planning to have a process orientation session start at 10:00 AM on Saturday, August 30, and last no longer than an hour. We can give you a few more details about the project if you show up and have not been before.

There are many things that need to be covered and many new volunteers needed. We have posted an electronic sign-up sheet for proposed shifts at (link deleted) We will need folks to sign-up as either a primary volunteer or on-call/backup person that we can call and bring in if we are short people. We know this is a very busy time for everyone and we want to get this done and over with quickly so it will not affect other work that needs to be done across campus. Once we have a definite date for the deliveries we will send out notification to those folks that said they were available on that day. We will have 48 hours notice of shipment, 72 hours notice of delivery. The machines will arrive on a staggered, every other day, schedule. Three shipments are expected for the total number of machines.

Orientation today was postponed, however, so I won't have more details until Wednesday =/ I'm looking forward to helping out, though.

Getting a bit ahead of ourselves (2, Insightful)

Richard Mills (17522) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835556)

"If it manages to complete the cluster before the cut-off date, it will score a Top 5 rank in the Linpack Top 500 Supercomputer List."

Err... I think somebody's getting a bit ahead of themselves here. =) Building parallel computing systems is complicated, and it may end up being quite a bit harder to realize the predicted performance than thought (not an uncommon occurrence). I'll believe it when they have the actual Linpack numbers.

Top 5? I dont think so (3, Interesting)

rawgod0122 (574065) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835559)

Currently the top 5 consist of 4 machines that have a Therotical maximum speed (Rmax) the are larger then the 10TFLOPS this machine will have. Then you have to translate that into peak speed which is what matter and what this list uses to rank the machines. Peak will be a good deal less, but this mostly has to do with the way the systems are interconnected and not the machines themselves. Say what you may about the G5 but the interconnect is more important.

There is only one machine in the top 5 that this cluster could beat. The rest of the world has had 6 months to build machines too.

This should be a top 10 machine for sure. Good to see more fast machines being built every day.

The Altivec stuff is the key, I'll bet. (4, Interesting)

Above (100351) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835566)

Several years ago I did some work on some Virginia Tech "supercomputers" (actually, baby versions of ones on campus that were the same as huge ones they leased time on elsewhere), and I think the people talking about Altivec are on track. I never knew exactly what they did, but at that time the Math, CS, and Engineering groups were working together to simulate wing designs for the YF-22 jet figher prototype. Since I was more of a "sysadmin" (althoug h with a math and CS background) I ignored most of what was going on, but one thing I can tell you was vectors, vectors, and more vectors. The vector is king. It's an assumption, but I'll bet they are still working on similar type studies, and if built, this will be just the beast for it.

I don't think... (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835569)

...it is in my power to imagine a Beowulf, or indeed any large-scale cluster, of G5's...I'm overloaded.

Fucking A (3, Funny)

waldoj (8229) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835575)

Damn, I've been at this school for a week and I haven't found a single redeeming value. Finally, a cause to hang in there for the next couple of years.

-Waldo Jaquith

Poor choice on Apple's part (-1, Flamebait)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835576)

Ok, so let's get this straight- Apple just screwed 500 customers for the sake of getting their name on some supercomputer top-500 list? I know if I had ordered my G5 and found out my machine was a month further away than I thought it was, I'd be spitting mad; the only people who have that kind of dough are people who really need the speed for business purposes. Not to mention this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back WRT Apple executive credibility with analysts- Steve said the G5's would be shipping by the end of August, and this cute little Virginia Tech deal will push that up almost a month.

I'm a diehard mac fanatic, have been for years- I've bought something like 6-7 Macintoshes over the last 10+ years, and I'm about to buy another in a day or two...but sometimes Apple management just completely stuffs its head up its ass.

As for Virginia Tech, this couldn't possibly be an efficient choice for a cluster; AMD Opertons in rackmount configurations maybe- but not G5's. For about $1k less than the dual G5, you can get a dual opteron system similarly spec'd out, and you can fit a couple of them in the same amount of space as one G5. No, this sounds like a publicity stunt more than anything else...

Hoax (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835589)

The cluster has nothing to do with Apple. They were contemplating using PPC970 CPUs (basically becasue they're cheaper than the Power4's), but AFAIK there were never plans to use complete G5 computers, or anything else made by Apple. And I doubt IBM would take CPUs from Apple to give them to V.Tech. The delay is mot likely due to performance issues; they're probably fine-tuning the OS so it's competitive with x86 / Windows systems.

How would seti@home rank? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835607)

Or folding@home? In a way they do satisfy the criteria for a cluster, so on average where would they be in the ranking?

XServe? (2, Funny)

diesel66 (254283) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835611)

This won't help sell their clustering hardware:

http://www.apple.com/server/clustering.html

Another brilliant idea, inspired by Apple (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835634)

With 1100 machines in the cluster, there must be _at least_ 2200 DIMMs. Since these must be 400MHz (PC3200) DDR, they can't be on a large 0.15 micron DRAM process, but most likely between 0.11 and 0.13u.

Who cares?

APPLE G5'S DO NOT SUPPORT ECC.

The random bit error rate for 2200 DIMMs with 0.13u cells is roughly one '1' bit dropped to '0' every 9 hours. In other words: good luck getting any reliable, large-scale computation done with this cluster. (And I do mean "good luck" - they might get a run of two or three days without any problems once in a while.)

Now if only Apple would support PC3200 ECC DIMMS, which certainly do exist:

http://www.intel.com/technology/memory/ddr/valid /d imm_results.htm

this cluster might be a bit more useful for real work.
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