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Building the World's 4th Fastest Supercomputer

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the better-faster-stronger dept.

Supercomputing 75

ngkabra writes "In November 2007, a previously unheard of supercomputer called EKA, built by CRL, India came out of nowhere to become the 4th fastest supercomputer in the world. It is also the only supercomputer in the top 10 that hasn't taken any government funding — which means it has no strings attached against commercial exploitation. That is one of the reasons why Yahoo! chose EKA for the cloud computing research that they announced at the Hadoop Summit earlier this week. Yesterday, I attended a presentation by the team that built EKA, and they touched upon a lot of the technical details of EKA, and the challenges faced in designing and building it, which makes for interesting reading."

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Yoda Doll Tsarkon Reports (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22902898)

Tsarkon Reports 9 Step Yoda Grease 9 steps to greasing your anus for Yoda Doll Insertion!
v 4.50.1
$YodaBSD: src/release/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/yodanotes/9stepprocess.sgml,v 4.50.1 2008/01/25 04:40:45 tsarkon Exp $
  1. Defecate. Preferably after eating senna, ex lax, prunes, cabbage, pickled eggs, and Vietnamese chili garlic sauce. To better enhance the pleasure of this whole process, defecation should be performed in the Return of the Jedi wastebasket for added pleasure. [homestead.com]
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y______________________________YODA_ANUS__- [hotlinkfiles.com]
o_________________.'_:__`.________________y [hotlinkfiles.com]
d____________.-.'`.__;___.'`.-.___________o [hotlinkfiles.com]
a___________/_:____\_;__/____;_\__________d [hotlinkfiles.com]
s_,'__""--.:__;".-.";:_:".-.":__;.--""__`,a [hotlinkfiles.com]
e_:'_`.t""--.._'/@.`;___',@\`_..--""j.'_`;s [hotlinkfiles.com]
x______`:-.._J_'-.-'L___`--_'_L_..-;'_____e [hotlinkfiles.com]
________"-.___;__.-"__"-.__:___.-"________x [hotlinkfiles.com]
y____________L_'_/.------.\_'_J___________y [hotlinkfiles.com]
o_____________"-.___"--"___.-"____________o [hotlinkfiles.com]
d______________.l"-:_TR_;-";._____________d [hotlinkfiles.com]
a_________.-j/'.;__;""""__/_.'\"-.________a [hotlinkfiles.com]
s_______v.'_/:`._"-.:_____.-"_.';__`.v____s [hotlinkfiles.com]
e____.-"__/_;__"-._"-..-"_.-"__:____"-.___e [hotlinkfiles.com]
x_.+"-.__:_:______"-.__.-"______;-.____\__x [hotlinkfiles.com]
_v;_\__`.;_; I Yoda Have A _____:_:_"+._;__ [hotlinkfiles.com]
y_:__;___;_;_Greased Up ME In __:_;__:_\:_y [hotlinkfiles.com]
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Ground Control to Yoda Doll Ballad : "Soddity"

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diff -pruN 0.4.2+cvs.2004.02.20-1.1/articles/slash (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22902914)

diff -pruN 0.4.2+cvs.2004.02.20-1.1/articles/slashdot/eating_in_space/3.txt 0.5.0-1/articles/slashdot/eating_in_space/3.txt
--- 0.4.2+cvs.2004.02.20-1.1/articles/slashdot/eating_in_space/3.txt2003-11-30 14:36:41.000000000 +0000
+++ 0.5.0-1/articles/slashdot/eating_in_space/3.txt1970-01-01 01:00:00.000000000 +0100
@@ -1,11 +0,0 @@
-Turkey?
-
-Actually I always believed that astronauts sucked pastes of different colors out
-of plastic sachets, brown-orange was "beef with carrots", and brown-yellow was
-"turkey breast with potatoes".
-
-If the often-nauseous smells coming from the gally aboard a plane are any
-indicator, the odour of heating food could be really nasty in space.
-
-And what's this about "no freezer"? What exactly is outer space, if not cold? No
-airlocks aboard the ISS?

Interesting maybe (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22902922)

Well, interesting enough for me to read to the end of the article. The article, however, does seem to lack substance and details. It seemed to spend a lot of time apologising for inadequacies and seemed to aimed at a less technical audience. That is fine, writing to meet the target audiences needs or wants is good (I guess I just wasn't in the target audience.) The article raised more questions for me than it answered though (which, again, might be good--it will at least make me google for more information.)

Re:Interesting maybe (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22902950)

You would think that the target audience would be more tech savvy people though. It is an article about a supercomputer which is something I don't think Joe Schmoe really cares about too much. I really want to know more about this interconnect architecture. We're about to replace our monster SGI system using Star pattern interconnect to an IBM one that I have yet to go to school for.

Re:Interesting maybe (1)

ngkabra (245586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22902980)

> I really want to know more about this interconnect architecture.

Actually I had the same question myself. The talk itself did not go into the details of the interconnect architecture (other than to point out its advantages). I have sent an e-mail to the architect of Eka asking for these details. Should hopefully get some references from him. (In which case I'll post it as an update to TFA.)

In any case, the presentation was targeted towards a general tech audience (i.e. people who don't really have a background in HPC/supercomputing/MPP.) I think the intention was to give people a feel for the challenges involved, without going into the gory details.

Re:Interesting maybe (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903050)

You are absolutely correct. And you have alerted me to the question: What audience was the article targeted at? Reading it (TFA) again, I am not sure it is targeted to any audience, but was written by a person without a clue. I can't for the life of me imagine why someone would to allude to facts and then skim over them saying "I don't understand". Maybe it was to meet a deadline; I don't know.

Re:Interesting maybe (1)

arktemplar (1060050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903090)

Well, I am currently working on a project with CRL, our aim is to increase the speed of certain operations as much as possible, and belive me they are going to be pushing this in a big way in a couple of months, I think they are going to be making some announcement in july, cause we have been given a june deadline for our implementations, and belive me the amount of money they are spending on this. ... scary man. I can't go into details (mostly cause I signed an NDA), but they can very easilsy increase the speed that they have currently and they are also doing a lot of investment along the lines of computations required for analysis of sisemic data, I think oil exploration, not sure of course. But very very exciting man, very very exciting.

Re:Interesting maybe (4, Funny)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22905572)

I concur. If you asked Joe Schmoe if he knew what a super computer was he'd probably tell you Windows Vista, which would be close, except he'd leave out the words "anything that can run".

Re:Interesting maybe (1)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22905380)

please, could someone reference some information that isn't wirtten by a 6 yr. old?

i'm genuinly interesting in this 'perfect difference' network and would like to understand why it makes a decent interconnect. (btw, i dont think cray has ever built a hypercube machine)

India will be respected (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22902934)

India is now on track to earning the respect it deserves. Good for them! But I wonder what countries like Russia have hidden from the public. I am sure they have respectable hardware. Those very deadly [nuclear] weapons and missile systems must have had their design done on some pretty cool hardware.

Offtopic Coincidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22902978)

"Those very deadly [nuclear] weapons and missile systems must have had their _design_ done on some pretty cool hardware."

The quote at the bottom of the page-- "design, v.: What you regret not doing later on."

Re:Offtopic Coincidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903310)

Quote: "If God hadn't wanted you to be paranoid, He wouldn't have given you such a vivid imagination."

Re:India will be respected (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903020)

Lazy Americans. Who needs a supercomputer when you have pens, paper, and an endless supply of cheap labor?

Re:India will be respected (3, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903652)

Actually people are not very good building nodes of supercomputers. They think slow, make way too many errors, and have horrible i/o speed, not to mention the best have about 7 abstract bytes of working memory (can hold about 7 concepts at a time). It would take thousands of years and millions of people to make calculations which this supercomputer can manage in minutes.

Re:India will be respected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904114)

*woosh!*

Re:India will be respected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904426)

Dude.... India HAS thousands of years and millions of people.......

Re:India will be respected (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22906082)

It would take thousands of years and millions of people to make calculations which this supercomputer can manage in minutes.


You will be assimilated.

Thought experiment time (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903120)

What does it take to make a supercomputer? Well, very fast switches, very low-latency, high-bandwidth interconnects, and decent CPUs. (You don't need mega-fast CPUs, you just need lots of them.)

Let's start with the switches. You can parallelize network traffic - fragment the packets, stick full headers on each fragment, switch the fragments in parallel, reassemble, have the queue re-order inbound traffic by sequence number. (That last step isn't too hard, you have some fraction of the sequence number and the full fragment number map to a unique address in a permanently allocated ring buffer. Copy the payload to that address and the packets are in sequence order, not delivery order.) So, instead of having individual switches that are fast, bank the switches up and have the combined virtual switch run very fast. You can do that on exportable commodity hardware.

Or, you could sneak through Homeland Security (who have much more interest in nipple rings than dangerous weapons) a bunch of 24-channel 5Gb/channel InfiniBand switches. You wouldn't need many of those to get a decent Quake LAN party, and not many more before you could run weapons design software. It is unclear how many are required to run Vista, once service pack 1 is installed.

Interconnects. Obviously, InfiniBand is hellishly fast. So is SCI. 10 Gb ethernet, ideally with iWarp extensions, would be much slower but still perfectly good for a commodity cluster. If you scrap the idea of having machine-to-machine communication and do memory-to-memory communication, you could actually use PCI-e 2.0 as one gigantic interconnect. Ideally, you'd have the memory appear as two separate devices - slave and master - so that direct memory-to-memory RDMA could be initiated. A lot of very similar work has already been done by US supercomputer giants, and given how many have either been bought, gone bankrupt, or otherwise vanished, it's reasonable to suppose large quantities of such RAM could have "migrated" overseas.

CPUs - well, there are some respectable 16-bit pile-of-pc clusters. One was reviewed on Slashdot some time back. Even a cluster of Cell processors, if large enough and well-enough programmed, could be very effective. A hostile nation wouldn't need high-end 4x4 multi-threaded multi-core SMP systems, although again given how juvenile airport security is, I can't imagine it would be hard for someone to export, say, a couple of hundred motherboards at that spec.

Ok, what about OS? Who needs one? Anyone with a copy of OSKit or something similar can work at almost bare metal levels as if they had a full OS. If they did want a full OS, then NetBSD or MOSIX would be quite sufficient. Or they could take an OS project like Exopc and add high-performance networking to it.

Software? If you've a decent copy of BLAS, LAPACK and some solvers, tightly optimized for the platform, you're set. Those core maths functions are critical. Since the functions and API are fixed, it would not be impossible for someone wanting raw power to have put them into an FPGA, SoG or ASIC. Collective operations are also nasty, but they too can be done entirely in hardware, giving you orders of magnitude speedup over conventional software solutions. Synchronizing is the third killer, but there are meta schedulers to handle that and you could again place those on dedicated hardware.

In short, although I couldn't afford to build a top 500 machine, it is only the affording of it that is a problem, and foreign countries are quite well aware of that. Especially after China built its first (publicly-announced) Government-funded Beowulf. Supercomputing is easy, it's the price tag that isn't.

Re:Thought experiment time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903714)

So this super-computer is probably just an American computer, built in India, is it? That makes me much happier. I knew that peasants living in mud huts couldn't invent anything better that the Great America can!!

Perhaps you should actually go and look at the hardware design...

Re:Thought experiment time (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904070)

Danger, danger, left-field high-velocity incoming! Last I heard, Kerrighd is French, MOSIX is Israeli, most chips were Taiwanese or Chinese, Linux is Finnish, BSP is from England (as is the Transputer and Occam). Only a really sick bastard assumes that non-(country of choice) must be (some other country of choice). Parallelism has always been an international effort and it's bigots and nationalists who delay it. Your attitude is reverse racism, as sick and perverse as clasic racism. I doubt you bothered to look to see how many contributors of these key systems were from India, or if they could even have been from there. Lazy as well as insufferable.

Re:Thought experiment time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904646)

I think that the AC was being sarcastic and was highlighting that the original poster saying "Supercomputing is easy, it's the price tag that isn't" ignores the impressive novel contributions (e.g. the interconnect design) from the CRL team.

Re:Thought experiment time (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22907974)

Novel interconects (the Transputer's serial links, VIA, SCADA, InfiniBand, VXI, SGI's brick scheme, Lightfleet's optical interconnect, entanglement, multi-frequency optics, deep space links) are a dime a dozen - and again many are either not American or were produced in an International consortium of which America was but part, merely reinforcing my point. The field of network engineering is rife with new technologies. This is a Good Thing, because richness of thought produces quality of product. It is also an inevitable thing, if progress is to happen. Why applaud the inevitable? It was going to happen eventually. The only reason there aren't more, very powerful and very wonderful, interconnects is that they're expensive to develop. Besides, a good topology often outweighs a bad interconnect, which is why most of the development is traditionally there.

Re:India will be respected (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903214)

I believe Russia had some very credible Vax clones during that era, reverse-engineered and built in bulk. Also a rather eclectic array of 2nd gen stuff, a couple of PC (including Apple ][) clones and the odd mainframe. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_computer_hardware_in_Soviet_Bloc_countries/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:India will be respected (1)

RCL (891376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908096)

Yes, I remember that they still had VAX in my university (I'm Russian) even back in the 1990-s. We even had a few lessons on it (but not anything VMS- or architecture specific). From what I know, that VAX had been smuggled in 1980s with help of some African or Scandinavian proxy (COCOM made it impossible to buy from US firms directly), so it wasn't a clone (although clones did exist).

Russia had two major branches in its hardware industry: one based on reverse-engineered clones and a "domestic" one. Neither branch was superior to western designs (although "domestic" Elbrus was a kind of exception), and software side was exceptionally poor. We had Unix port [wikipedia.org] , called DEMOS and also ports of RT-11. Infamous Chernobyl power plant ran a version of Soviet RT-11 clone as its control system.

Re:India will be respected (1)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903282)

If by "pretty cool hardware" you mean "pen and paper" then yes.

Re:India will be respected (1)

madboson (649658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904788)

There is a distinct difference in philosophy between American/Western physicists and Russian physicists, especially during the Cold War era. Namely Russians are famous for working on closed form solutions to problems or hand capable integrations, where as Americans typically were more apt to "running" to the computer. I would hazzard a guess that the Cold War era weapons built by russians were developed by alot of sweat over some ultra advanced computing resources. Besides, you have to notice that a majority of these weapons were built during prior to the fall of the wall, so think about what kind of computers were available then.

Yay!! (0)

.Bruce Perens (150539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22902948)

Alright guys, let's get FIRED UP!!

We're number FOUR!
We're number FOUR!
We're number FOUR!!

We're one less than bronze!! YEAH!!

Quite a baseball match last night, yes? (4, Funny)

longacre (1090157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22902966)

Will tech support for this Indian computer be outsourced to Dell reps in Texas?

Re:Quite a baseball match last night, yes? (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904542)


where's the imagine a beowulf cluster of these post?

I think there would only be need for about six of these in the entire world.

  rd

Re:Quite a baseball match last night, yes? (2, Interesting)

tuomoks (246421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22909874)

Maybe funny but look at the investments of some large Indian companies (no names.) Some are heavily investing or at least interested to invest for support centers in US. Computing is getting more and more global but, I have to say, Indians are fast learning where they can find not so expensive support. Good and bad, depends on how you look it.

Obligatory... (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903002)

...to save you reading the article, it actually IS the worlds fastest super computer, but it's running Vista so now it only comes in 4th.

Twitter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904478)

Twitter, is that you?

Finally ....... (4, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903012)

A Vista spec machine in non Governmental hands!

Re:Finally ....... (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903034)

A Vista spec machine in non Governmental hands! Maybe they'll let Microsoft borrow it to take to court with a "Ready for Vista" sticker on it. At least then they'd have one piece of evidence to submit to the judge.

Re:Finally ....... (5, Funny)

Alpha Whisky (1264174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903424)

Please don't exaggerate, any of the top 100 could run Vista, no problem, with Aero switched off.

Re:Finally ....... (1)

iNaya (1049686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903446)

But can it run Crysis?

Sorry (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903606)

Not enough memory to install Service pack yet.

Just imagine ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903024)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of those things!

This is old news (4, Informative)

Apoorv Khatreja (1263418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903046)

I have known about EKA for years now. Being an Indian, I try to be aware of all the developments in IT in and around India, so I knew about this project when it was at it's earliest stages.

What most people don't know is that this project is funded by the Tata Group, and is directly influenced by TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), which I am strongly related to. The initial goal of this project was to surpass IBM's Blue Gene in the field of supercomputing, but then, things went wrong (as is usually the case with Indian projects), and it landed up in the 4th position, which I still feel, is quite a big feat for a projcet funded privately.

Re:This is old news (2, Interesting)

ngkabra (245586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903060)

Another thing that is impressive about Eka is that it was built for just $30 million. This is, according to the Eka architects, significantly lower than the costs of the other computers that are in this league.

Supercomputer price/performance: Do the math! (1)

GGardner (97375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22908272)

BlueGene/P systems cost roughly $1.4 million per rack. The second fastest computer on the top 500 list is a sixteen rack BlueGene/P system.

Re:Supercomputer price/performance: Do the math! (1)

jwo7777777 (100313) | more than 5 years ago | (#22929948)

So, I guess Eka is BlueGene/Pwned?

Re:This is old news (1)

Sheen (1180801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903246)

I did not read article, but if the supercomputer cost less pr thz/ghz/mhz then the others on top, i would still say its quite impressive for a country like India to do something like this! PS, I'm north european.

Re:This is old news (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904420)

What most people don't know is that this project is funded by the Tata Group

Nice. We like big tatas.

We like nano [slashdot.org] tatas too.

Re:This is old news (1)

asiansteev (991271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904596)

"What most people don't know is that this project is funded by the Tata Group"

You mean this tata group? http://www.savethetatas.com/ [savethetatas.com]

Re:This is old news (1)

Apoorv Khatreja (1263418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22906696)

Tata is a big player here in India. They control almost everything - communications, IT, motors, steel, infrastructure, power, beverage, satellites and research. This new supercomputer only strengthens their monopoly.

Re:This is old news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904694)

It seems like the actual 'computer' part was actually HP's BL460c blade cluster architecture and the main work that Tata did was providing a building, AC power, cooling, and a bunch of cabling.

All that work is no doubt very impressive, but if someone installs a Blue Gene cluster, you usually hear credit for the supercomputer given to IBM -- not to the people who built the building that it's in.

Hmmm (1)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903066)

I didn't see in the article if it is capable of running vista in Aero mode :)

Probably means no...

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904044)

erm yeah...I can't think of a good reason for them to waste money on DX10 hardware, can you?

Surprise surprise (1)

the100rabh (947158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903074)

Its surprising that there is hardly any tech discussion on this topic. Best of all...not much India bashing.....wonder what happened to slashdotters...dumbfounded is it???

Surprise Tata! Surprise (0, Offtopic)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22905166)

Best of all...not much India bashing
I have tried twice now to think of a funny India bash for you, but I always start giggling when I think that this is one huge Tata, needs a back-up to make a pair of huge tatas, something about if you buy four Jaguar cars you could make a joke about jaguar tatas and little cars suckling contentedly....

One thing's for sure, the Tata company will play a huge role in my international pun toolkit.

Top 500 in November 2007? (1)

bazald (886779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903078)

Why didn't this hit Slashdot sooner? Anyway, it seems to be very "green" as well. It looks as though there is only one computer more powerful than it that beats it on the Green500 complimentary list:

http://www.green500.org/lists/2008/02/ranks1-100.php [green500.org]

Re:Top 500 in November 2007? (1)

bazald (886779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903086)

Argh... looking at the wrong numbers. It has dropped from the 70s in terms of CPU power per watt to 91. Not very green after all.

http://www.green500.org/lists/2008/02/ranks1-100.php [green500.org]

Blue Gene has government funding? (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903166)

It is also the only supercomputer in the top 10 that hasn't taken any government funding
So this implies that IBM has taken government funding for their fastest server? That's news to me...

Re:Blue Gene has government funding? (3, Informative)

Anakron (899671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903238)

Blue Gene has government funding?
Err, yes? Blue Gene/L is situated *inside* the Lawrence Livermore national labs. I'm pretty sure the department of energy funds the entire project. IBM is the largest, but not the only technology partner in it.

Re:Blue Gene has government funding? (1)

Tiosman (614633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904688)

There is a large BG/L at Livermore because Livermore bought it through a competitive procurement process. Just like other national labs and private companies. There was definitively no public funding used in the development in the BlueGene product line. However, IBM use government money to do research-oriented development, like X10 through HPCS funding.

If you believe Tata bought this cluster with a business plan to recover its cost in X years, you are mistaken. This machine is (advertisement + ego pumping + tax write off). Ego pumping is very important in India these days, they want to change their image, be respected...

Yeah but does it run ... (0, Redundant)

IchBinEinPenguin (589252) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903194)

... oh, never mind.....


I'll just have be content with a beowolf cluster of these things imagining me in Russian.

Big frakking woop.. they built a big cluster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903226)

Just because you've built a big cluster, doesn't make you a bunch of supercomputer architects, especially when that cluster has *no* innovative features whatsoever. Please don't try to b.s. us with arguments about how y'all had to solve problems of scale. Been there, done that.

btw, 1800 blades/nodes and 7200 cores isn't particularly big. TACC's Ranger is 3936 nodes and 62,976 cores. Architecturally, the machine looks almost exactly like the systems LLNL and the other National Labs have been building over the last 10 years.

just sayin', ya know ?

Odd storage requirements... (2, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903270)

# 1800 blades,
# 80TB storage. Simple SATA disks. 5.2Gbps throughput.

So using the 80TB * 1024GB/TB / 1800blades gives us about 45GB/blade. If they're using "simple SATA disks" this would imply internal disks and 1800 internal disks would have an aggregate throughput much higher than 5.2Gb/s (5.2Gb / 1800 = 2.95Mb/s per disk). Now typically you'd boot the nodes from the network (so you can change the identity of the node easily by booting it from a different image) from some sort of FC array accessed via an IB to FC gateway. However, 5.2Gbps is an odd number to get to since FC comes in 2 and 4Gb formats (1Gb fibrechannel is outdated and 2Gb is on the way out).

While I always see all the CPU details in these articles, I really wish they'd publish more about the storage requirements and methods rather than just staying (we have xTB of disk...). How do they back the finished datasets all up? Tape? MAID? VTL?

Re:Odd storage requirements... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903676)

The article hints that the storage is HP SFS; basically a turn-key lustre system built on loads of SATA raid arrays.

http://h20219.www2.hp.com/HPC/cache/276636-0-0-0-121.html [hp.com]

Re:Odd storage requirements... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22905200)

Your basic assumption, there are drives per node is probably not right. There are probably disk arrays connect to the machine through a small number of nodes. 80 TB could be as few as 80 1 TB drives, which at 10 MB/sec/drive is .8 GB/sec or 6.4 Gb/sec.

Does it run on cow dung? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903542)

Why are the Indians making super-computers? Who was the American who helped them? They can't have done it themselves?

Why do they need a super-computer in a land where everyone lives off rice and lives in a mud hut? Perhaps they are going to design nuclear weapons? We should bomb them back to the stone age before they start!

Only America should be allowed technology like this.

Re:Does it run on cow dung? (1)

dysporium (1264198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903748)

Hi
Your comments contradictory
  First You say we Indians live in huts, which means we are in stone age but then
you say USA shall bomb us back to stone age!!

  You know soon USA Gov. will pay to run simulation on this Cow dung powered computer !!

Re:Does it run on cow dung? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22905486)

"You know soon USA Gov. will pay to run simulation on this Cow dung powered computer !!"

d00d - lay off the bong

The real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22903950)

This project started a couple of years back when Narendra Karmarkar (yes, him [wikipedia.org] ) got a grant from the Tata group to try out his ideas in this 1991 paper [acm.org] . Prior to that he had tried getting funds from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research ( TIFR [tifr.res.in] ) while he was still employed with them (he had joined TIFR after leaving the US, though was still with Bell Labs in some way). TIFR was in no position to fund his project as their overall budget for all their activities was less than Karmarkar's requirements. The project started well enough and about 40 people joining CRL. From the grapevine it is heard that Karmarkar never gave any details (that what is contained in the paper referred above) to even people working closely with him. Basically he seemed interested in working all alone to meet his own targets. With not much tangible seen by the Tatas (a business house) and their need to have some clear road-map the relationship grew cold and at a certain stage Karmarkar left [indiatimes.com] the organization. The remaining team put together what is called EKA. So, it is just another parallel machine built with enough money to buy all the components. Nothing innovative there.

4th Fastest (1)

Triv (181010) | more than 6 years ago | (#22903976)

The posting title reminds me of the Simpsons gag of Homer imagining what it would be like to be a moderately rich man. "Tee hee! I could rent anything I want!"

Like an old episode of Red Dwarf. (1)

Thaed (1145431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904072)

I couldn't help but think of the episode where the computer on Red Dwarf became dramatically smarter at the expense of lifespan. This computer is tremendously fast, but it has to be backed up and rebuilt all the time. It seems to be the reliance on thousands of off the shelf parts that creates this problem. I wonder if it is always the case with supercomputers or if this problem can be overcome with improvements like flash storage?

Re:Like an old episode of Red Dwarf. (2, Interesting)

Gorobei (127755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22907736)

It's really not that much of a problem. Supercomputers have very different hardware vs support cost trade-offs compared to consumer devices.

True story: a few months ago, my program was running slowly, and I needed a lot more CPUs. Yelled to the guy a few desks away, and he gave me the names of a few idle compute farms. Job was 50% complete after 10 minutes, I thanked him, and laughingly said that I like to measure my compute power in megawatts rather than MIPS.

Now, a couple of metawatts of compute don't sit below your desk: a platoon of sys-admins, building support staff, guards, external liasons, etc, are managing those facilities. When I grabbed them, I didn't worry about minor hardware failures: there are people with full-time jobs who hot-swap failed hardware.

Fourth fastest according to who? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904440)

My understanding is that the list of Fastest Supercomputers [top500.org] is for supercomputers that are publicly funded - which is why we don't see any mention of google or microsoft clusters. But yet the summary claims that this one has not taken any government funding.

So then how can this cluster claim to be fourth fastest, when they really are not competing with the publicly funded clusters of the main list?

Obviously, we cannot expect the big corporate supercomputers to spill their beans to contest this, but it doesn't really look like it would be fair to compare this non-publicly-funded supercomputer to those that are.

Re:Fourth fastest according to who? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22905050)

You think very wrong.
Funding has nothing to do with it.
Its the useage: As a supercomputer.
20k 1U servers running as shared hosts at an ISP would be a supercomputer if they had the interconnection and the software background. But they arent, so they dont. Same for google, ect.

You will notice a lot of company computers (at airlines, automotive companies, ect, in the top500)

Re:Fourth fastest according to who? (1)

ScorpFromHell (837952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22905074)

Dude the site you provided ... was very useful ... I just had to look up the list for November 2007 & look up the details of the fourth supercomputer to check if the original post got it right.

And guess what? Its right there ... don't believe me? Well look up the top 10 [top500.org] list for Nov '07.

And to quote from that site you pointed to:

The TOP500 table shows the 500 most powerful commercially available computer systems known to us.
Bold by me.

Try as I might, I could find no information that this list is only for supercomputers that are publicly funded. May be I didn't try hard enough ... could you pls give reference to the claim you make?

Re:Fourth fastest according to who? (1)

TheAncientHacker (222131) | more than 6 years ago | (#22916276)

There are lots of corporate computers in the Top 500 list. The difference is these are specifically computers tested using the Linpack benchmark. This is typically going to be traditional HPC clusters and not single purpose machines optimized for another need.

You WILL find a Microsoft's Ranier cluster running Windows on 2048 processors as the 116th fastest computer in the world on the Top 500 list.

Crysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22904724)

yeah but can it play Crysis?

Projective Geometry interconnect ? (1)

Tiosman (614633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22904814)

These words make no sense. This machine uses a Clos topology, without source-routing and using rather small 24-port crossbars I might add. Nothing new there, has been done for 20 years. It's full bisection on paper, but Head of Line (HoL) blocking statistically reduces it to ~60% efficiency. And without adaptive routing, no way around it.

This machine has no new concepts or new hardware, boring.

HOWTO (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22905950)

Build the 4th fastest supercomputer:

  1. Build the worlds fastest supercomputer
  2. Load Vista

Want to drop off the end of the Top 500 [top500.org] list? Load SP1.

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