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249 comments

Geez, that's pretty impressive... (4, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921081)

...but someone ought to tell them that Doom 3 runs pretty well just on moderately-new hardware...

Re:Geez, that's pretty impressive... (4, Funny)

AIX-Hood (682681) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921125)

Going on the mention of the previous shuttle disaster, I think they're trying to avoid doom.

Re:Geez, that's pretty impressive... (4, Funny)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921179)

well.. they would need to get the shuttle flying..

and get that mars plan underway as well. no way in hell i'm signing up for UAC's mars base though no matter how exciting archeological findings...

Re:Geez, that's pretty impressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921354)

But if you join the marines and are forced to go don't forget your duct tape and some upside-down-head-spider repellant.

Re:Geez, that's pretty impressive... (1)

Wybaar (762692) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921332)

They're planning ahead for what the system requirements will be for Duke Nukem Forever running on Longhorn when they both come out.

Re:Geez, that's pretty impressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921402)

gogo HEMOS! Poster of dupes and overall too many WORTHLESS stories.... HEMOS WINS WORST SLASHDOT STAFFER AWARD! - maybe a beowulf cluster of worst staffer awards!

Uh-Oh. Let the heat jokes begin. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921082)

10,240 Node Itanium 2 named Project Columbia

What are the expecting some kind of heat being generated from this machine? Yeah it sucks saying that but the NASA and it acronymed nerd heavan sybolism should really think about how they're commermerating the name and let some things rest.

THEY EXPECT TEH BOXEN 2 ASPLODE!!!~! LUNIX SUX (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921468)

Should have went AMD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921089)

More bang for the buck, IMHO.

Re:Should have went AMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921438)

NASA does not care about money. It's US taxpayers' money. They just want the biggest baddest thing they can think of.

By the way, Windoze and LSD wouldn't run on this kind of machine.

Dupe? (5, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921093)

10240x more dupes? [slashdot.org]

Re:Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921190)

this isn't a duplicate, this is a triplicate!

How many times are you going to post this story? (-1, Redundant)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921119)

There is no new information here that wasn't in the last three articles about this cluster.

"NASA to piss away a lot of money on computers" is barely newsworthy, even on a tech site like slashdot.

What Would SCO's Take Be Worth? (4, Funny)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921126)

About $7.2 Million.

Talk about a software tax!

Re:What Would SCO's Take Be Worth? (2, Interesting)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921182)

Moderators must be having a bad day. I've seen several other attempts at humor moderated 'offtopic'.

I wonder if this is a Monday phenomenon? I wonder what the distribution of 'Funny' moderation is through the week.

Re:What Would SCO's Take Be Worth? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921254)

I wonder if this is a Monday phenomenon? I wonder what the distribution of 'Funny' moderation is through the week.

Sounds like the moderators are having a case of the Mondays?

Re:What Would SCO's Take Be Worth? (0, Offtopic)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921340)

Sounds like the moderators are having a case of the Mondays?

If you accept the notion that people are more prone to have a negative mood on a Monday than, say, a Friday when looking forward to a weekend, then yes they are having a case of Mondays.

It would be interesting to look at moderations over the course of a week to see if moderators are more generous in their assement of a posts "worth" at weeks end rather than on Monday morning.

Re:What Would SCO's Take Be Worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921353)

No, witless "$699!" comments are just completely unfunny. Go make Beowulf or dupe jokes instead.

Re:What Would SCO's Take Be Worth? (2, Funny)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921411)

Actually I was referring to other topic areas other than this one. I wasn't even referring to my own attempt at humor. I was making a rather broad commentary about moderations in general and how those marked 'funny' are running rather low today...

....you humorless fuck.

Fucking mods (-1, Offtopic)

Douglas Simmons (628988) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921405)

God damn I hate this moderation system. Because of douche bags like the one who modded you off topic for a very witty joke that actually was tied into the story, not only do I browse at -1, I have my user settings convert any flamebait or offtopic modded posts to +5 because more often than not that is their actual worth.

Re:Fucking mods (0)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921441)

Some of the trolls are quite good today as well. They have been unceremoniously drubbed off the boards as well.

Ah well, the tools we give to the masses.

AGG! (0)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921130)

If I hear one move comment about a certain medievil hero (hint: beo...) in a certain cliche, I may go insane.

Re:AGG! (4, Funny)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921185)

So Hrathgar carries Hrunting into a bar. The bartender asks him "Why the long face", and Hrathgar cuts his head off with Hrunting singing, "A hrunting we will go, a hrunting we will go!"
*Rimshot

Good news for Intel (5, Funny)

thebra (707939) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921135)

This is great news for intel. They will double the number of itanics shipped in a single deal!

Hahaha, my comment is a dupe!

only 10 times faster? (0)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921141)

Hell, why not go for 100? And what are they doing with what they were using before? Can I have it?

Make that 11 Re:only 10 times faster? (1)

Bob_Robertson (454888) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921237)

They could make it 11 times faster merely by continuing to use whatever it is they already have in addition to the new cluster.

"But this one goes to eleven!"

Bob-

NASA vs RIAA/MPAA (5, Funny)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921143)

The system will have 500 terabytes of storage, the equivalent of 800,000 CDs.

In related news, the RIAA has filed a writ of discovery for illegal downloads of 'Major Tom' at NASA.

I hope technology will help (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921144)

But I wonder if moving from a spreadsheet to a supercomputer simulation will make it any more likely that engineers with concerns will whistleblow to non-responsive management. This is a government bureaucracy problem, not a technical problem.

Re:I hope technology will help (1)

RoosterRuley (679152) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921196)

I remember that the culture of NASA at the time made anyone who questioned what has happened afraid to speak up. Will a fast computer really change that?

Re:I hope technology will help (2, Interesting)

GGardner (97375) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921392)

Instead of saying "In my best engineering and technical judgement, based on years of training and experience, I think this is a bad idea", the engineers can say "Our really expensive computer thinks this is a bad idea".

Tax payer. (4, Interesting)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921148)

I'm rather mad at this idea, the system costs more than an opteron system, costs more to run (heat/power) and is slower. But it at least runs linux.

Also, why is the BBC the first news tidbit about NASA's new supercomputer?

Re:Tax payer. (4, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921163)

Also, why is the BBC the first news tidbit about NASA's new supercomputer?

Science isn't sexy news in America.

Not unless they declare they've created a satellite system that will track and kill bin Laden.

Re:Tax payer. (4, Funny)

legoleg (514805) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921323)

Just wait till the last week of October... I'm sure he'll conviently pop up around then.

Re:Tax payer. (1)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921399)

I'm thinking the same thing. Amazing how much activity we've had over the last two weeks on the War on Terror compared to the last five months.

bin Laden is probably in a hole somewhere in Leavenworth Penitentiary right now ready for his arrest just before Halloween.

Re:Tax payer. (2, Informative)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921459)

Science isn't sexy news in America.

To be fair, science isn't exactly sexy news in the UK, either. The BBC covers stuff like this because (a) it's mandated to, and (b) there's no profit motive keeping the unsexy news off the (metaphorical) frontpages. Which is nice[1].

[1] ...provided there remain alternative broadcasters to keep the Beeb on its toes.

Re:Tax payer. (1)

RageEX (624517) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921447)

Know of any 512P Opteron systems? Slower? Last I knew Altix had the best STREAM score by a large margin. The processors aren't the big deal it's the NUMAflex architecture, massive memory bandwidth and scaleabily, and the huge nodes.

Friday is "Hawaiian Shirt Day" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921158)

But ask yourself, "Is this good for the company?"

pork (-1, Troll)

FWMiller (9925) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921164)

What a crock of sh$#! This is pure pork through and through. So Ames in CA is getting a gigantic supercomputer to do "simulations for Shuttle return to flight." Please, they designed the whole thing with less computing power than a PC. And Ames has nothing to do with Shuttle operations. If you think this is anything besides a nice subsidy for Intel in CA, take off your rose-colored glasses.

So, who's up for reelection in CA this year? Lets check the Intel campaign donations to various candidates shall we? Sorry for the cynicism but NASA has little to do with Space Flight these days and everthing to do with being a big govt agency. If you want innovation in Space Flight, check Scaled Composites, that's the bleeding edge.

Re:pork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921277)

I was thinking about this also.

Seriously, what, exactly does nasa need all of this computing power

It seems to pork~ish to me.

Cool computer, though.

Article not written by a technical person.. (2, Interesting)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921192)

.. or a very good writer.

"They can also be modelled over a time period of weeks or months instead of over just a few days."

Ohh sweet, so then what used to take days now takes months?

And at one point in the article, it says "20 nodes" and then at another part it says "512 nodes." So like, what is it?

You know what, I don't even care.

Re:Article not written by a technical person.. (2, Informative)

orbit0r (731107) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921271)

And at one point in the article, it says "20 nodes" and then at another part it says "512 nodes." So like, what is it?

Read the article:
"It is using an off-the-shelf system and taken that and built a powerful system around 512-processors which are then hooked together to give considerable power."

512 processors * 20 nodes = 10240

You're Missing the Point! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921322)

Yes it takes weeks or months instead of days, but it does it an order of magnitude more expensively! This same technology has been employed for years at the DMV, and look at the results you get there. This is the Government we're talking about...

Re:Article not written by a technical person.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921461)

Article not read by a technical person.

The article is stating that the weather pattern studies would now be able to simulate activity periods of weeks or months rather than just days - NOT that the simulation runs themselves would take months rather than days!

Dupe Upon Dupe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921201)

From the dupe [slashdot.org] :

"We had another story [slashdot.org] about this a week or so ago."

Come on guys.

well I guess the VT cluster will move to (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921204)

to number 4 next time because of this sucker. it has 2 times the nodes as the earth simulator!!

Re:well I guess the VT cluster will move to (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921460)

to number 4 next time because of this sucker. it has 2 times the nodes as the earth simulator!!

The VT cluster that made #3 won't be on the list, since it was taken apart and the parts sold off. They are building a new cluster, with hardware that is capable of actually doing science this time, rather than just running benchmarks.

Even if they had kept the first cluster, it wouldn't be #4. Besides the cluster in this slashdot story, there is also Thunder, and that IBM cluster being built for the army, that are all faster than the first VT cluster.

Abuse of government funds? Nah... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921209)

Whichever idiot decided that his cousin working for Intel was a good enough reason to go with Itanium should not simply be fired, he should be stoned for wasting taxpayer money. G5 supercluster? Sure, you have future Apple computers and even IBM's power series to upgrade to. x86? Yeah, the market for that may last. But ITANIUM?!

"Yeah, boss...remember that 4 million line simulation program we wrote in C last year? Well, just because your new [non-Itanium] cluster is 100x faster, that doesn't actually mean it will, um, work. We kinda need to rewrite it...completely."

And for those wondering -- no, you can't simply write portable C. The guiding principle of Itanium was to put optimization into the hands of the compiler, and since all the compilers for it suck, you're left doing whacky tricks in C (or IA64 ASM) if you want to get even mediocre performance.

Re:Abuse of government funds? Nah... (1)

telemonster (605238) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921406)

SGI said the reason they went with the Itantium2 versus AMD Opteron is that the Altix was being developed before the Opteron went to market.

Cluster != Supercomputer (2, Insightful)

ChaosMt (84630) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921227)

I can understand the BBC making this mistake, but slashdot?! I'm sure this was also noted in the dupe.

Re:Cluster != Supercomputer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921388)

I can understand the BBC making this mistake, but slashdot?! I'm sure this was also noted in the dupe.

Which I'm sure you also didn't read.

So tell us, when is a cluster of supercomputers not a supercomputer?

Re:Cluster != Supercomputer (2, Insightful)

telemonster (605238) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921420)

It is a cluster of supercomputers :-)

Seriously, the way the Altix is laid out... I believe it is a cluster of 512 processor supercomputers.

This isn't uncommon. Look at ASCI BLUE, or some of the other large IBM SP2 based systems.

Spin (1, Informative)

geneing (756949) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921233)

Aren't you tired of hearing how supercomputers "may help solve" all the problems in the world. If anything the impact of that supercomputer on shuttle will be nil. Developing massively parallel software takes years, by then this supercomputer will be obsolete.

Another rant - why use Itanium processors? In order to get good performance from EPIC architechture you need specially optimized compilers, which won't be available for many years (by then this supercomputer will be obsolete). For now ibm's power architechture is a much better bang for the buck.

Re:Spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921342)

The "P" in EPIC is parallel. The software in question needs to be paralle. Both take a while to get optimized.

Where exactly is your issue?

Re:Spin (1)

Build6 (164888) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921448)

Another rant - why use Itanium processors? In order to get good performance from EPIC architechture you need specially optimized compilers, which won't be available for many years (by then this supercomputer will be obsolete).

You're assuming the only decision-making criteria is performance. Cost, marketing/PR value, and not to mention politics, definitely factors in. Intel may be cutting NASA a major sweetheart deal.

Itanium? (1, Troll)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921246)

Can anyone point out any significant advantage of the Itanium that justifies the fact that it costs ridiculously more than its competition (i.e. AMD Opteron)? The only reason I can think of to explain why NASA would go with an Itanium cluster over something else would be Intel giving them a great price break on them. In which case I'd like to assert that Intel is just doing it for the free promotion a la Apple (remember the G5 cluster Virginia Tech bought?).

VT paid for the G5s (2, Informative)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921293)

Apple didn't give VT any computers, they paid for them because they were the cheapest solution.

Re:VT paid for the G5s (2, Interesting)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921328)

Yes, that's why I said that Virginia Tech bought them. The point was that they were cheapest because Apple gave them a huge price break, presumably for the promotion it gave them (i.e. "Holy shit! Our computers are so fast and awesome that they're using them in supercomputer clusters!").

You'll notice that no large clusters have built out of G5s since, and it's because nobody else is going to get price breaks significant enough to make it the cheapest solution.

Re:VT paid for the G5s (1)

over_exposed (623791) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921433)

Another benefit to using the G5s was the software designed by Apple (I forget the name of it) specifically for clustered environments. That's also why they upgraded from the G5s to the G5 X-Serves a few months ago.

Re:VT paid for the G5s (2, Informative)

djward (251728) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921464)

Apple gave them no price break on the G5 towers. The systems were purchased at EDU pricing straight from the Apple Store, online.

Apple DID cut them some slack on the additional RAM, charging industry-norm prices for the memory instead of their usual markup. They probably saved them some money on the sidegrade to Xserves, too, but I don't know the details.

Anyway, when the initial cost assessment was done, the G5s were cheapest not because of a price break, but because they were... well... cheapest.

Re:VT paid for the G5s (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921477)

If you count the educational discount as a true discount you're correct, but they did just go to the Apple online store and order 1100 of them at the same price any other education customer would get:

Dr. Srinidhi Varadarajan talks about VT's G5 supercomputer [macdevcenter.com]

There wasn't any "extra" discount. Since most supercomputers are built by education, government or the military, the standard discount Apple happens to give is more like the actual price. I imagine all companies offer the same level of reduced price so it's a moot point. They paid going rate for them.

Re:Itanium? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921365)

There aren't any 512-way Opteron systems in production yet, I'd expect a wait. I'm not even sure if any 8-way AMDs are commercially available. In case you haven't looked, Opteron 8xx CPUs are bloody expensive too. I don't think Itanium systems can be properly compared against Opteron 1xx and 2xx chips when discussing massive single-system-image computers.

Also, clusters != super computer. This has been discussed many times.

Re:Itanium? (1)

cyngus (753668) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921385)

I am sure the decision on what platform to use was based far more on the fact that they could get 512 processors per node. The SGI Altix platform exclusively uses Itanium 2 processors. I an not aware of a 512-processor Operton system that is available. While this system has 20 nodes its is far less "clustery" than most "supercomputers" like the VT cluster that uses over a thousand nodes. Expect this cluster to get far higher performance, particularly since each node could be considered a supercomputer in its own right. Plus, yummy NUMA. -Engage brain, then type.

Re:Itanium? (0, Troll)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921414)

I'm sorry, I didn't read the article very carefully, I thought this was a large cluster of single processor computers rather than a small cluster of supercomputers. It does make sense that they're using Itaniums for this. Still though, I find it a little disturbing that my post above is now modded troll considering it really was an honest question. Whatever though.

Re:Itanium? (5, Informative)

djohnsto (133220) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921463)

Think of it less of a win for Itanium and more of a win for SGI Altix (that happens to use Itanium). The SGI Altix machines have a single system image with 512 processors (there are 20 of these clustered together). As far as I know, this is actually the cheapest and highest performing system that can use 512 nodes in a single system image. Other choices (which I'm not even sure scale to 512 processors) include Sun (slow), Power (expensive), and MIPS (SGI predecessor to the Altix - slower). Also, they are working on methods to increase single system image size to 2048 nodes, I believe an industry first. Some workloads just like running in single system images much better than on clusters.

As for Itanium vs. Opteron - the Itanium kicks the Opteron's ass in floating point. Since NASA is presumably going to be doing a lot of engineering simulations, good FP performance is highly desirable. Having 6 MB of cache per node probably helps the Itanium beat out the Opteron for large memory footprint workloads as well.

Basically, until Cray releases Red Storm (not sure if they'll stay in business that long), an Opteron system doesn't exist that can match the performance of the SGI Altix.

Finally, Itaniums are NOT "rediculously more" compared to the 8xx Opteron line (which is the Itanium's real competitor in this area).

WoW! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921265)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those...

SGI needs the cash... (0, Redundant)

Chiminea (696521) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921278)

Hmmm, doesn't SGI have an office just down the road from NASA Ames. Between the $160 million price tag and the cost for yearly maintenance it looks like SGI can make payroll for a few more months! Sure does look cool though...

Why do they need this? (1)

Secret Chimp (557933) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921305)

Do they need a supercomputing cluster to figure out where foam is going to fall off next? Or perhaps to compute down to the millimeter exactly how much crap they'll be in if something goes wrong again...

Re:Why do they need this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921422)

Do they need a supercomputing cluster to figure out where foam is going to fall off next?

Of course not. The supercomputer is to study how to best convey the information such that NASA management actually pays attention and takes action.

DUPLICATE!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921315)

I believe that the XP SP2 article was also a dup. Is it really that hard to find articles?

Re:DUPLICATE!!! (0, Offtopic)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921371)

I don't think so. I wrote a submission on August 4th titled "When Does It Make Sense To Quit?" about a software developer who has not made a significant change to their premire application in nearly 7 years. I thought it an appropriate topic for Ask Slashdot.

It has been in the 'pending' bin for five days.

Weird.

Hey BSD trolls! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921356)

You can troll all you want, but notice how the engineers at NASA chose Linux and not some other dead OS.

Some CLusters (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921361)

Ive not personally played with performance cluster myself, but I seem to remember a DOS clustering project. I would like to see something like that mature, just because of the few known OS's that run on top of it.

With that, it would be really nice to just have a Performance Cluster VM OS that you could install whatever OS and have the computing power of buttloads of machines. It sure would put to use all of those 486's I have.

Re:Some CLusters (2, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921455)

Does anyone know of a better site than /. to discuss tech related topics because, as the post I am responding to shows, /. users are getting dumber and dumber as time goes on.

Re:Some CLusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9921465)

buttloads of machines Would that be metric or imperial unit buttloads?

Irony emulator (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921391)

Isn't the computer running the space shuttle built around one of those physical disk memory systems?

So this super computer will be used in part to emulate the computer running on the space shuttle - probably one of the oldest designs still in regular use.

So little memory the launch, orbit, and descent programs cannot be loaded simultaneously.

Re:Irony emulator (1)

flaming-opus (8186) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921428)

If it aint broke, don't fix it. The only way to have a device that's very, very reliable is to keep it very, very simple.

The shuttle's computer, btw, is a scaled back version of the IBM s/370 mainframe processor.

Okay, that's big but... (3, Informative)

Hamlin (543598) | more than 9 years ago | (#9921423)

if they'd gone with G5 Xserves they could have had 23,888 Dual 2GHz systems with 17.916 Petabytes of storage (assuming they just went stock on the high-end systems).

Okay and one question about the article. Was he saying 1000 Gb of RAM per system or 1000GB per system?
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