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World's Fastest Supercomputer To Be Built At ORNL

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the right-near-dollywood dept.

United States 230

Homey R writes "As I'll be joining the staff there in a few months, I'm very excited to see that Oak Ridge National Lab has won a competition within the DOE's Office of Science to build the world's fastest supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It will be based on the promising Cray X1 vector architecture. Unlike many of the other DOE machines that have at some point occupied #1 on the Top 500 supercomputer list, this machine will be dedicated exclusively to non-classified scientific research (i.e., not bombs)." Cowards Anonymous adds that the system "will be funded over two years by federal grants totaling $50 million. The project involves private companies like Cray, IBM, and SGI, and when complete it will be capable of sustaining 50 trillion calculations per second."

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230 comments

FIRST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125835)

ME ME ME ME ME!

good stuff (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125841)


Personally I'm happy to see Cray still making impressive machines. Not every problem can be solved by "divide and conquer" clusters.

Re:good stuff (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125929)

Not every problem can be solved by "divide and conquer" clusters.

Please elaborate, since you seem to know this stuff.

Re:good stuff (4, Informative)

adam872 (652411) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126014)

Some problems are easily partitioned up and distributed to separate nodes. In particular, code where the nodes do not need to talk to each other much are ripe for clusters, as the interconnect speed is less important. Therefore, you can build a commodity cluster fairly cheaply.

For other problems, where interprocess/node communication is high or very high, you need a high speed interconnect (like NUMAflex in SGI's) to get you the scalability you need, as you increase the number of processors/nodes and the size of the data set increases. The big systems like Crays and the bigger SGI's and IBM Power series have those high speed interconnects and will allow you to scale more efficiently than the clusters. They cost a lot more though :)

A good book to read on the subject of HPC is High Performance Computing by Severance and Dowd (O'Reilly). It's a little old now, but it covers a lot of the concepts you need to know about building a truly HPC system (architecture as well as code).

Re:good stuff (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125931)

Personally I'm happy to see Cray still making impressive machines. Not every problem can be solved by "divide and conquer" clusters.

in reality there is no difference between a multi processor system that uses a motherboard bus or a system that uses ethernet as as a "bus" between processors. It is an artificial distinction when you are talking about things this big.

Re:good stuff (4, Insightful)

sotonboy (753502) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125972)

I disagree. There is a huge difference. Bolting a load of boxes together with ethernet and all the associated overheads can never be as efficient as dedicated hardware for connecting, and sharing the processing load.

Obviously there is a lot more that could affect the performance, such as how memory is implemented. In general though, the system will perform best when each processor is performing calculations, rather than looking after ehernet connections.

Re:good stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125995)

The question is: does it really matter with a system that large?

Re:good stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126045)

I disagree. There is a huge difference. Bolting a load of boxes together with ethernet and all the associated overheads can never be as efficient as dedicated hardware for connecting, and sharing the processing load.

Obviously there is a lot more that could affect the performance, such as how memory is implemented. In general though, the system will perform best when each processor is performing calculations, rather than looking after ehernet connections.


"Obviously there is a lot more that could affect the performance"

Try saying "cost", look at the cost of virginia tech's and look at the price of this one. And then tell me you couldn't get a better deal direct from IBM on PPC...

At $50 million you have almost TEN times Virginia Tech... This simply does not compete.

World fattest people are USian GAYS ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125842)

Citation:
Les jeans taille basse bientôt bannis en Louisiane?
BATON ROUGE, Louisiane (AP) - Au nom de la morale et de la décence, l'Etat américain de Louisiane s'apprête à bannir les jeans taille basse qui laissent entrevoir des sous-vêtements, la peau voire certaines zones pileuses.
Le projet de loi, déjà approuvé par la commission judiciaire de la Chambre de cet Etat du sud, entend déclarer illégal le port en public de vêtements qui exposent intentionnellement toute partie des poils pubiens, de la raie des fesses ou des parties génitales.
En vertu du texte, les contrevenants se verraient condamner à trois jours de travaux d'intérêt général dans une caserne de pompiers, et devraient verser jusqu'à 175 dollars d'amende.
Dans notre société, il existe une ligne de décence à ne pas franchir et cette ligne commence à la ceinture, a fait valoir le démocrate Derrick Shepherd, parlementaire local à l'origine de ce projet de loi.
Glenn Green, démocrate lui aussi opposé au port de ce type de vêtement, a soutenu devant la commission que les législateurs étaient dans l'obligation de réaffirmer les limites de la décence à des adolescents dont la mode est de plus en plus osée.
Nous devrions être capable de dire ce qui est moral, ce qui est décent et ce qui est un comportement acceptable pour notre jeunesse, a-t-il soutenu.
Le projet de loi, approuvé jeudi dernier par la commission judiciaire, doit être soumis au Congrès de Louisiane avant la fin de la session en cours, le 21 juin prochain.
AP tl/v
Source: © AP - The Associated Press. Tous droits réservés. [edicom.ch]


Facts:
  • Sex is a wonderful thing (impossible to explain to the average /.er).
  • American are flacidly gay.
  • American children desserve to murder their parents while they're asleep.

Re:World fattest people are USian GAYS ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125903)

That article could as well be talking about how exceptionally beautiful Americans are. Too bad no one will ever know because no one cares about that irrelevant language known as 'French'.

Re:World fattest people are USian GAYS ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125990)

That article could as well be talking about
Ask the Fish [altavista.com] or check the Press [katc.com] , fucktard.

how exceptionally beautiful Americans are.
If fat turns you on, I guess, you might find your kind exceptionally beautiful, we, in Europe, prefer when our wives can see their feet without the need of a mirror.

Re:World fattest people are USian GAYS ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126008)

This is a fairly weak example of your trolling skills. Perhaps your non-American superiority is a false front?

In the future I recommend you come up with something new - repeating tired truths and making stupid statements is the resort of children.

Re:World fattest people are USian GAYS ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126015)

Well, you fell for it, so his mad skillz can't be that bad.

ORNL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125843)

Hahaha! This is the first post on slashdot! k1337!

Wow... (3, Funny)

nother_nix_hacker (596961) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125845)

The project involves private companies like Cray, IBM, and SGI, and when complete it will be capable of sustaining 50 trillion calculations per second."
Outlook with no slowdown!

Re:Wow... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125902)

No, just more room to add code bloat.

I suppose.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126081)

Mozilla just makes the rest of the universe speed up around one then?

Outlook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126166)

Will Doom 3 run on it?

Re:Wow... (1)

David Horn (772985) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126274)

"Not only I can tell you your weight, I can compute your personality problems to eight decimal places..."

Guess that applies here more than anywhere else. ;)

*ducks*

Qualifier (5, Insightful)

andy666 (666062) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125851)

As usual, there should be a qualifier as to what is meant by fastest. According to their definition they are, but not according to NEC's, for example.

50 trillion (2, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125852)

50 trillion calculations per second.
Wow, that's darn fast.

I wonder if that processing power could be used for rendering like was done by Weta and how the performance could compare to their renderfarm.

Re:50 trillion (2, Funny)

Roger Keith Barrett (712843) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125863)

Build me a real time simulation of Morgan Webb PLEASE!

Re:50 trillion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125977)

Build me a real time simulation of Morgan Webb PLEASE!

I'm sure for the $50M the gov't is throwing at this project, they could probably hire her to give everyone on /. an evening or two of lovin'...

Re:50 trillion (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125887)

I wonder if that processing power could be used for rendering like was done by Weta and how the performance could compare to their renderfarm.
Sure, but the real question is why would you? The cost of this on a per mip basis is sure to be much higher than a renderfarm. In addition, ray tracing lends itself to parellelism. There are many other problems out there that do not that can use this kind of box.

Re:50 trillion (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125907)

get a grip

Talking out my ass here, but (1, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125864)

I thought the age of the over-priced supercomputer was over, and the age of the cluster had begun?

Sure, I'd love to have one of those things in my house, but as long as the government is spending my money, I think I'd rather see them go for a more cost effective solution, rather than another 1 ton monster that'll be obsolete in two years.

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125983)

There are still a few computing problems that can't be efficiently split into a large number of subproblems that can be executed in parallel. For those cases, a cluster of small machines won't help.

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126275)

While we are all talking out our ass here. 1st, the grandparent poster says:

I thought the age of the over-priced supercomputer was over, and the age of the cluster had begun?

Sure, I'd love to have one of those things in my house, but as long as the government is spending my money, I think I'd rather see them go for a more cost effective solution, rather than another 1 ton monster that'll be obsolete in two years.


If you think that $50 mil is overpriced for the fastest computer in the world, then the guys who will soon be in 2nd place that paid $400 mil [medserv.dk] must feel really stupid.

Then the parent poster says:

There are still a few computing problems that can't be efficiently split into a large number of subproblems that can be executed in parallel. For those cases, a cluster of small machines won't help.

(Score:-10, Wrong)

I'm sorry dude, but this macine is going to have more than 1 CPU in it, and the work will have to be split among the processors and ran in parallel.

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126009)

Insert standard response about how some problems do not parallelize well and that a bunch of nodes in a cluster (no matter how many) wouldn't be able to crunch out the problem in any resonable time.

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (0, Redundant)

Shisha (145964) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126049)

There are some problems that lend themselves to be easily divided between thousands of processing nodes and then combined in a final answer / solution. (easily meant in the way mathematicians use the word, i.e easy means it known to be possible, anyone who's ever written a program using more that 2 threads knows what a nightmare it can be)

Then there are problems where such approach is not possible and you just need a very fast pipeline, or a big data troughput or whatever.
...as long as the government is spending my moneyI guess they considered other options before awarding the contract.

Sure, I'd love to have one of those things in my house,... I certainly won't my P4 system is making enough noise already and it's more than fast enough for all the simulation I've run on it in the last three years.
...another 1 ton monster that'll be obsolete in two years... Shame really, I must agree. But obsolete sounds a tad too harsh, perhaps not amongst the top 10 most powerfull but still usefull. And in 10 years time, they can incorporate it into the firewall and use it to run spam detection programs. (if the spam traffic keeps increasing at the current pace, it might be sufficient to service say, 5 mailboxes?)

2 Years? (3, Informative)

XMyth (266414) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126072)

I don't think Crays that were build 5 years ago are considered obsolete by anyone's standards.

Clusters solve different jobs than supercomputers. Sometimes they bleed into one another, but there are some things supercomputers will always be better at (because of higher memory bandwidth for one thing).

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (4, Interesting)

flaming-opus (8186) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126096)

If you care to, read the pdf on their early impressions of the X1. The Army High Performance Computing Research Center (www.arc.umn.edu) did an analysis of their application and found that the X1 was actually MORE cost effective than a commodity cluster.

Firstly, the X1 was greater per-processor performance by a factor of 4. Then you add an interconnect that has half the latency, and 50 times the bandwidth of myrinet or infiniband. It also has memory and cache bandwidth enough to actually fill the pipelines, unlike a Xeon which can do a ton of math on whatever will fit in the registers. Some problems just don't work real well on clustered PCs, they need this kind of big iron.

Secondly, some problems cannot tollerate a failure in a compute node. IF you cluster together 10,000 PCs, the average failure rate means that one of those nodes will fail about every 4 hours. If your problem takes three days to complete, the cluster is worthless to you. A renderfarm can tolerate this sort of failure rate, just send those frames to another node. Some problems can't handle it.

Oak ridge is very concerned with getting the most bang for the buck.

Being Snide Here (4, Insightful)

Seanasy (21730) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126099)

I think ORNL and PSC [psc.edu] know a lot more about supercomputing than you (or Internet rag pundits) do. As others have noted, there are real reasons for Big Iron.

Clusters are great for certain problems but for heavy computation -- think simulating two galaxies colliding or earthquake modeling -- off the shelf clusters don't cut it.

They're not wasting tax-payer money unless you consider basic researcher a waste.

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (2, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126159)

Didn't Cray make some comparison about supercomputers vs clusters being like a tractor trailer vs a fleet of honda civics?

The civics might be fine for couriers, but if you need to move - say - an elephant they're useless.

Analogies suck, though, and I'm pretty sure I got that one wrong.

Re:Talking out my ass here, but (2, Informative)

Uhlek (71945) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126162)

Clusters are not the be-all end-all of supercomputers. Clusters are really only effective if you have a problem that can be paralellized -- or split into multiple parts that can each be worked independently of one another and then merged into a single result. Factorization, rendering, etc. are all examples of easily paralellized operations.

Certain operations, though, are highly dependant upon each previous result. Physics and chemical simulations are a good example. When you have situations like this, clusters don't do you a lot of good, since only one iteration can be worked on at a time -- leaving most of your cluster sitting there idle.

Hmm (5, Funny)

LaserLyte (725803) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125865)

> ...capable of sustaining 50 trillion calculations per second.

Hmm...I wonder if I could borrow it for a few days to give my dnet [distributed.net] stats a boost :D

Shamelessly plagerized (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125874)

Wow, 50 trillion calculations per second. Thats almost fast enough to finish an infinite loop in under ten hours.

Yeah... (1)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125876)

And then VT will add more nodes to their G5 cluster. :P

Re:Yeah... (2, Interesting)

word munger (550251) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125982)

Unfortunately we haven't heard much from them lately [vt.edu] (Notice the "last updated" date). I suspect they're still waiting on their G5 xServes.

Re:Yeah... (1)

paitre (32242) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126054)

Which is forcing me to continue waiting for the one I ordered the day the fucking things were announced.
They've gone from giving me a mid to late April ship date to "Sometime in June".

Screw that. Apple is screwing the pooch if they're at all serious about getting into enterprise computing. It's one thing to slip one or two months, but now they're at four, and I wouldn't be suprised to see it go to 6 at this point.

Fartknockers.

Re:Yeah... (1)

raalynthslair (759150) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126278)

well if IBM could get them chips faster they could get the machines out faster, VT would get theirs X Servers, and you get your machine...

Re:Yeah... (2)

birukun (145245) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126135)

Remember, DOE is a tax-payer funded agency. For my money, the G5 solutions looks better!

How many Apples would it take? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125880)

How many Apple servers would it take to reach this capacity and what would the cost be? VPI was able to build theirs for a LOT less than $50mil.

Doom 3, Anyone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125901)

Imagine Doom 3 on that sucker!!

Companies that outsource (IBM) should not receive (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125910)

Government grants.

Doom III (4, Funny)

MrRuslan (767128) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125912)

at an Impresive 67fps on this baby...

Re:Doom III (1)

jabex (320163) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126180)

Unfortunately it will be the only computer capable of playing Doom III (outside of the Japanese Earth Simulator... which Doom III was originally designed for).

trillions of calculations but it only has .... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125913)

640k ram, because that ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:trillions of calculations but it only has .... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126146)

haha, bet you didn't expect to be modded troll!

who understands some of these moderators.. maybe you have to spell out the joke for'em ! :)

World's Fastest Supercomputer! Wow. (0, Troll)

cableshaft (708700) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125928)

Considering the almost exponential rate that technology increases, this computer won't be any faster than a personal computer in 6-8 years, and will undoubtably have its rank supplanted within probably 4 years. I fail to see why this is all that interesting, especially since I know its status will be ousted sometime in the near future, barring some sort of crazy worldwide nuclear or biochemical war.

It's not quite as "prestigious" as the guy with the world's longest fingernails or anything, that's all I'm trying to say.

Re:World's Fastest Supercomputer! Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126051)

Yes. And no one should buy a new console for the first four years it is out, because it will just be supplanted by new consoles anyway. As a matter of fact, no one should make any technology purchases, because it's not like you get to use it or anything. It's all a waste in the long run.

Of course, your post isn't as "prestigious" as the guy with the world's biggest asshole [goat.cx] , that's all I'm trying to say.

Re:World's Fastest Supercomputer! Wow. (1)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126095)

Sure, personal computers will be faster in a few years, but sheer speed isn't the only thing that makes a supercomputer. What divides massive clusters of $200 Wal-Mart boxes from a mid 80's Cray (those Crays, by the way, still go for ~$20K) is that the Cray uses much faster, wider pipelines between components. With the current trend of lagging the various buses behind the processor almost by orders of magnitude, the desktop PC won't approach current-day supercomputers for a long time.

I GUESS that's fast but... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125933)

How many FPS does it get in Q3? :P

They better hurry ... (5, Interesting)

realSpiderman (672115) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125934)

... or this [ibm.com] is going to beat them hard.

Still a whole year until they have a full machine, but the 512-way prototype reached 1.4 TFlops (LinPack). The complete machine will have 128 times the nodes and 50% higher frequency. So even with pessimistic scalability, this will be more than twice as fast.

Re:They better hurry ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126151)

Blue gene is a parallel processing computer. Paralell processing and clustering is only effective for problems which can effictively be broken down into orthogonal parts. Some problems such as fractals where the next calculation is dependant on the previous one cannot be thus broken down. If Blue gene tried to tackle this kind of problem it could only make effective use of a single processessor and it would progress only at the speed of a single processer. Single power chips are fast but not nearly good enough for a super computer.

Re:They better hurry ... (4, Informative)

flaming-opus (8186) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126163)

Two radically different designs, will probably solve very different sorts of problems. Linpack is extremely good at giving a computer an impressive number. It's the sort of problem that fills up execution piplines to their maximum. Blue Gene was origionally designed to do protein-folding calculations. While many other tasks will work well on that machine, others will work very poorly.

It's a mesh of a LOT of microcontroller-class processors. The theory being that these processors give you the best performance per transistor. Thus you can run them at a moderate clock, get decent performance out of them, and cram a whole hell of a lot of them into a cabinet. It's a cool design, I'm interested to see what it will be able to do, once deployed. However, for the problems they have at ORNL, I'm sure the X1 was a better machine. Otherwise they would have bought IBM. They already have a farm of p690s, so they have a working relationship.

50 trillion calcs/sec...how fast really? (4, Insightful)

Debian Troll's Best (678194) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125938)

I love reading about these kinds of large supercomputer projects...this is really cutting edge stuff, and in a way acts as a kind of 'crystal ball' for the types of high performance technologies that we might expect to see in more common server and workstation class machines in the next 10 years or so.

The article mentions that the new supercomputer will be used for non-classified projects. Does anyone have more exact details of what these projects may involve? Will it be a specific application, or more of a 'gun for hire' computing facility, with CPU cycles open to all comers for their own projects? It would be interesting to know what types of applications are planned for the supercomputer, as it may be possible to translate a raw measure of speed like the quoted '50 trillion calculations per second' into something more meaningful, like 'DNA base pairs compared per second', or 'weather cells simulated per hour'. Are there any specialists in these kinds of HPC applications who would like to comment? How fast do people think this supercomputer would run apt-get for instance? Would 50 trillion calculations per second equate to 50 trillion package installs per second? How long would it take to install all of Debian on this thing? Could the performance of the system actually be measured in Debian installs per second? I look forward to the community's response!

Re:50 trillion calcs/sec...how fast really? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9125969)

Intallation is dependent on disk speed not mips. This computer lends itself more towards computional problems like solving RSA keys or finding new primes.

Re:50 trillion calcs/sec...how fast really? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126182)

Fractal iteration is also a very good use for this machine.

Re:50 trillion calcs/sec...how fast really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126191)

Thats obvious... 200 libraries of congress

Maybe it's me. (1)

jacoplane (78110) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125970)

Can anyone explain what "DOE" is? I'm assuming it's some american govt thing like department of energy. is that correct?

Re:Maybe it's me. (2)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126002)

That's correct, it's the Department of Energy.

I don't know why they would need it, but that's just because I don't know anything about the work of the DOE (not being an american and all that)

as a former DOE employee (5, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126243)

I worked in Instrumention and Control for the Free Electron Laser project at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. We also host the CEBAF (Concentrated Electron Beam Accelerator Facility), which is a huge ass particle accelerator.
the DOE does a lot of basic research in nuclear physics, quantam physics, et cetera. the FEL was used to galvanize power rods for VPCO (now Dominion Power) and made them last 3 times as long. Some William & Mary people use it for doing protein research, splicing molecules and stuff.
The DOE does a lot of very useful things that need high amounts of computing power, not just simulating nuclear bombs (although Oak Ridge does taht sort of stuff, as does Los Alamos). We only had a lame Beowulf cluster at TJNAF. I wish we would have had something like this beast.
I want to know how it stacks up to the Earth Simulator.

Re:Maybe it's me. (4, Informative)

henryhbk (645948) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126020)

Yes, DOE is the Federal Government's Department of Energy. Oak Ridge is a large federal govt. lab.

Re:Maybe it's me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126074)

Yes. It's the Department Of Erections. They're going to build the Internet's fastest porn server.

But the computer's record will be short-lived... (2, Funny)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 9 years ago | (#9125994)

...because a day later Palm users will massively interconnect to form the World Fastest Clustered Computer Environment. The OS? Linux, of course. .}

Processors for Potheads? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126010)

My dyslexic ass first read that headline as "Fastest Supercomputer to be Built at NORML."

I don't know what use a bunch of stoners could have for the world's fastest computer, but if it brings the end of the War on (some) Drugs sooner, I'll all for it.

It's Longhorn compatible then ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126028)


or it certainly seems like it (reading the specs of the thing)

First Ninnle Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126041)

Will they be smart enough to install the version of Ninnle Linux already ported to the Cray XI architecture?

Huh? (1)

NegativeK (547688) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126043)

. . . it will be capable of sustaining 50 trillion calculations per second.

Does anyone else not gain anything from that statement? 50 trillion calculations means very little if all it can do is flop a bit back and forth 50 trillion times. Perhaps someone could come up with a better benchmark, like the largest number it can factor in a minute, on average. Even then we may be talking about huge exponents in scientific notation. =p

It could just be the fact that it is ten in the morning, but 5*10^13 seems incomprehensbily large.

DOE = DOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126067)

...capable of sustaining 50 trillion calculations per second.

Seems like a lot of computing power for non-classified science

I suspect it'll just run 'computations' to work out how to blow up Muslims quicker...........

No bombs? (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126073)

I couldn't find the source for the "non-classified" bit... These things are often not used for simulating new bombs but for, "evaluating the stability of the nuclear stockpile." Does research into whether the yield of our cold war nukes is down or up a few kilotons qualify as non-classified?

Re:No bombs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126145)

Oh that's very classified.

But even so, they find time to squeeze in a little fusion research, and in at least one instance virtually crashing a mars sized planet into earth to see where our moon might have come from. But yes bombs bad. If it wasn't for the cold warriors we'd all be enjoying our lives in a gruel loving communist utopia. Boo US why aren't tax dollars spent filling everyone's lives with prettier flowers. Boo.

Cray X1.. What role do IBM and SGI have? (2, Informative)

freelunch (258011) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126089)

They were listed as part of the solution.

Oak Ridge has done extensive evaluations of recent IBM, SGI and Cray technology. Though I am still looking forward to data on IBM's Power5.

Cray X1 Eval [ornl.gov]
SGI Altix Eval [ornl.gov]

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash (1, Offtopic)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126112)

Since it's funded by federal grants, how much time, as a taxpayer, do I get on it?

And I'm still waiting for my turn to drive one of the Mars rovers.

3D torus topology (4, Informative)

elwinc (663074) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126124)

I checked out the topology of the Cray X1; they call it an "enhanced 3D torus." A 3D torus would be if you made an NxNxN cube of nodes, connected all ajacent nodes (top, bottom, left, right, front, back), and then connected all the processors on one face thru to the opposite face. I can't tell what an "enhanced" torus is. (Each X1 node, by the way, has four 12.8 gflop MSPs, and each MSP has eight 32-stage, 64 bit floating point pipelines.)

So each node is directly connected to six ajacent nodes. Contrast this with the Thinking Machines Connection Machine CM2 topology, which had 2^N nodes connected in an N dimensional hypercube. [base.com] So each node in a 16384 node CM2 was directly connected to 16 other nodes. There's a theorem that you can always embed a lower dimensional torus in an N dimensional hypercube, so the CM2 had all the benefits of a torus and more. This topology was criticized because you never needed as much connectivity as you got in the higher node-count machines, to CM2 was in effect selling you too much wiring.

Thinking Machines changed the topology to fat trees [ornl.gov] in the CM5. One of the cool things about the fat tree is it allows you to buy as much connectivity as you need. I'm really surprised that it seems to have died when Thinking Machines collapsed. On the other hand, any kind of 3D mesh is probably pretty good for simulating physics in 3D. You can have each node model a block of atmosphere for a weather simulation, or a little wedge of hydrogen for an H-bomb simulation. But it might be useful to have one more dimension of connection for distributing global results to the nodes.

Is competition good? (1)

mr_tap (693311) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126152)

Man I hope Virginia Tech buys some more Xserve G5s - they are slipping down the ranks :)

Numbers... meaningful numbers? (1)

hkfczrqj (671146) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126165)

50 trillion of calculations per second. Is that a synonym of flop (floating-point operation)? ...

How does this computer compares with the BlueGene/L [llnl.gov] (131,072 cpus, 0.5 Petaflops -estimated)? Don't be mislead by the name (*Gene)... this will be a computer for classified simulations (it will have a 1-2 year long "science run", for testing purposes with non-classified simulations).

Cheers...

A Cray question (1)

mattgoldey (753976) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126190)

I don't know much about Cray's supercomputers. What operating system do they run? I'd imagine that it's a Cray proprietary one. Is it a Unix-like OS? or something completely different?

Hyphenation Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126212)


I've noticed the incorrect use of hyphens a lot on Slashdot, so I thought I'd submit a hyphenation troll when I saw a misuse to try and improve things. :)

In the story text it says, "dedicated exclusively to non-classified scientific research."

1) Latin prefixes (such as "non", "un", "anti", "pre", "nano", etc.) almost never require hyphens [susx.ac.uk] . Thus it should be written as "nonclassified" (although I believe "unclassified" is more common).

Hyphenation Troll.

Fighting the temptation ... (1)

Rico_za (702279) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126227)

... to post the usual jokes, I've got to ask: What runs on these kind of machines? What OS do they use, and what kind of software? Can you buy software for supercomputers, or will the customer/new owner have to write all the software to run on it themselves? Anyone out there working on something similar have interesting facts about the software?

Cray X1 OS is.. (1)

freelunch (258011) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126317)

SGI's IRIX.

That detail is kept under pretty tight wraps by Cray. It is licensed from SGI and is discolosed as a business risk in their regulatory filings.

IRIX has always been my favorite UNIX.

Cool video on Cray X1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9126365)

Great video with a fair bit of detail on the X1's cooling system, chip density, etc.

View it with mplayer:

Cray X1 [cray.com]

Posted Anon to not karma whore.

NOT the fastest! (4, Interesting)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 9 years ago | (#9126373)

It seems to me that as long as multiprocessor machines qualify as supercomputers, then the Google cluster [tnl.net] counts as the fastest right now, and will still count as the fastest long after this new DOE computer is built.
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