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Japan Supercomputing Upgrades Hardware

Fujitsu Announces 16-core SPARC64 IXfx (and the Supercomputer It Powers) 68

First time accepted submitter A12m0v writes with a link to Fujitsu's announcement of its next generation of supercomputer, from which he pastes: "PRIMEHPC FX10 runs on the newly-developed SPARC64 IXfx processors, which offer a very significant boost in performance over the SPARC64 VIIIfx processor on which they are based and which power the K computer. Each processor has 16 cores and achieves world-class standalone performance levels of 236.5 gigaflops and performance per watt of over 2 gigaflops." Not that K is any slouch.
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Fujitsu Announces 16-core SPARC64 IXfx (and the Supercomputer It Powers)

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  • Oracle? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sun was using Fujitsu SPARC64 processors on some of their servers before the buyout. Are there any news on whether Oracle is going to develop new servers with SPARC64 IXfx processors?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Rumor from engineer friends is no. They will resell some Fujitsu servers co-branded with Oracle and that's it.
      The longer term roadmap is even more grim for SPARC. I still have a SunBlade on my desk that works like brand new, but sadly is about as useful as the SGI under the desk :/

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not true. Oracle will continue to jointly develop the SPARC64 with Fujitsu. The servers produced today, dubbed the M-series are in fact sold and produced under Oracle logistics -- not Fujitsu. Fujitsu is a reseller of this technology, so if you buy a server from them, you're having it delivered from Oracle. Its Fujitsu who is the reseller. Further updates to the M-series will include moving toward the LDoms technology where there is an expected convergence with the M-series and T-series sometime 2015 accord

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That is not correct -- the M series is entirely a Fujitsu design. I know because I was at one time privvy to the roadmaps.

        • by rubycodez (864176)
          liar, Oracle had nothing to do with the Sparc 64 VII, VII+, VIIIfxe "venus" development. Those are purely Fujitsu's design, Oracle only sell servers such as M using it, they have neither the resources nor brains to design such a thing.
        • The VIIIfx supposedly doesn't support SMP, so I'm skeptical as to how interested in it Oracle is.
      • Yeah, it's a shame. A buddy of mine just got rid of his Ultra3 workstation because it was too slow to be usable (doing software development running NB7.1, GlassFish and PostgreSQL). My old Ultra20 is still usable, but it's not really "snappy" (and not a SPARC system, despite the name).

    • Re:Oracle? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 07, 2011 @06:58AM (#37971820) Journal
      I don't think Oracle is interested in this market. They wanted the subset of Sun hardware that is good for databases and web apps (i.e. the Tx line), but they aren't really interested in being in the general-purpose server market. They want to be able to control the entire stack from the hardware to the applications, and everything in the middle. There are two reasons for this. The obvious one is that it lets them really tune for performance out of the box. The second, and more important, is that it lets them offer support contracts for the entire machine. If anything goes wrong with it, hardware, operating system, database, or in the business apps, you won't get your in-house IT staff to fix it, you'll just call Oracle. These contracts can be really expensive, and still seem like a good deal compared to keeping a few admins on staff.
      • Re:Oracle? (Score:5, Informative)

        by sleigher (961421) on Monday November 07, 2011 @07:17AM (#37971876)
        Right, except have you ever called Oracle support? Had a sev 1 recently. We have 24x7x4 hr call back. Did I get a call back after 4 hours? no. 6 hours? no. 8 hours? no. It was 3 days later we actually got a manager to have a meeting with us to figure out why we can't get support for our hardware. Go ahead, get rid of your staff. Depend on Oracle to help you. That's a great idea. I assure you, you will not regret it.
        • Nope, never called them, and never heard anything good from people who have - I'm not recommending buying Oracle, just outlining their thinking with regard to the Sun acquisition.
        • by assantisz (881107)
          Not my experience at all. We never had any trouble with Oracle support. Sure, the online portal sucks donkey balls but getting them to reply to us within the contracted time has never been a problem. If it happened to you, you should make a stink with your account representative.
  • I'm disappointed at this development. 'Icsfics' is a lot less fun to say than 'veeeeefix'.
  • But for a reasonable price , not the silly money that Sun wanted for their desktop systems. I'd love to have an up to date solaris box to develop on.

    • by inflex (123318)

      Never thought that their "lower end" gear was too expensive, like their Opteron workstations, but that said, I'm probably biased because I was with the Sun Developer program for my software - so the hardware was likely strongly discounted.

      • Maybe not. I bought one of their Ultra20 workstations new for around US$800 and that was without any discounts. More expensive than building an equivalent box from parts, but the parts are top notch (Tyan motherboard, nVidia NV280 graphics card). My only complaint was having to track down a funky "SPUD" bracket to mount a second hard drive.

    • Out of curiosity, are there any remaining applications for solaris where hardware considerations(presumably local access to the video card; but there might be others) would drive customer purchases of a desktop sparc, rather than whatever the Dell rep is trying to get rid of and an SSH or Sun Ray Software and a sparc server?
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:10AM (#37972088) Journal
      I have one of Sun's cheap workstations - the Blade 100, which was 100% cheap commodity crap plus an UltraSPARC CPU. The problem is that they don't have anything like the economies of scale required to make cheap chips. If Intel is selling 100 chips for every one that Sun is selling (which is quite optimistic for Sun / Oracle), then the unit cost of the SPARC is going to be a lot bigger, even if the two chips are the same size and made on the same process, just because all of the one-off costs (including R&D) are spread over a much smaller number of chips. A cheap Sun workstation is still likely to be a few hundred dollars more than an equivalent x86 system, even if all of the components other than the CPU are the same, and that limits them to people who really need to be able to develop on SPARC...
      • by Viol8 (599362)

        "A cheap Sun workstation is still likely to be a few hundred dollars more than an equivalent x86 system"

        A couple of hundred I could handle. What annoyed me was back in the day a desktop sparc would be at least 50% more than the equvalent x86 and when you'd added in the optional (!) keyboard, monitor etc it could easily be twice as much. For high end kit you'd be looking at 3 or 4x the price.

        As for ebay , there are some bargains on there but I need up to date hardware and OS really, to match what I use at wo

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          "Back in the day" there weren't many x86 workstations that could do what a Sparc or other Unix workstation could do. Sun even sold some x86 machines which didn't do too well. Of course the workstations sold for much more than a lowly PC. There weren't x86 workstations at the time, that cpu was intended for very low end commodity home and business machines. It took a lot of Intel resources to beef things up, and I doubt they would have done it without competition from x86 clones.

    • by cpghost (719344)
      If you're happy with UltraSPARC IIIi's, try some Sun Blade 1500 (1 ultrasparc) or SunBlade 2500 (2 ultrasparcs) desktop deals on eBay. I've got a couple of those very fine machines for less than $100 each, and I'm running Debian Squeeze, FreeBSD, and Solaris on them just fine.

      But you're right. I wish we could buy SPARC IV- or later based desktops anytime soon. At this point in time, only FUJITSU would probably consider producing some, if we manage to convince them by showing enough interest. Oracle is way

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Sun used to offer SunBlade workstations, and some priced @ $7000. I agree that was steep, but standard for its time. Also there was a company called Integrix that made SparcStations, as well as another called Tatung. They're either gone, or changed.

      As far as the RISC based computers go, 2 of the top CPUs - Alpha & PA-RISC are dead, Sparc is more alive due to FJ than Oracle, MIPS is alive but nobody uses them in computers anymore - only in routers, and it seems to have lost its games console to POW
  • Fujitsu is fishing in the same waters as IBM does with their BlueGene machines: both lines are designed to deliver 20 PFLOPS and both are traditional systems in the sense that you don't have accelerators like GPUs, which are still awkward to program for the average physicist. Thus, to potential buyers the TCO would be interesting. From what I've heard BlueGene/Q is twice as power efficient [] as the Sparc VIIIfx design, but those were just 8-cores, not 16-cores.

    So, assuming comparable total power consumptions

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Indeed, 236 GFLOPS on a single CPU is quite impressive. Thats over twice the performance of an OC 2600K (4.6ghz.)

      The 8-core VIIIFX chip pushed 128 GFLOPS with 760 million transistors on 45nm .. this IXFX is I guess marketed as a drop-in replacement chip so it must be using a smaller process size to fit in the same socket.
      • A high-end GPU will do 5 to 20 times as many FLOPS, at 3-6x the efficiency. Quite possibly at a lower cost, too, given that they're relatively high-volume parts, compared to a SPARC. And before anybody complains about "well yeah, but GPUs can't do X", well, that's what they get for using FLOPS for a benchmark. Unless what they're interested in is FLOPS, they really shouldn't use them as a benchmark!

        • by joib (70841)
          Oh? So how come the VIIIFX based "K computer" then, apart from being the current #1 in performance, also beats the GPGPU clusters (with the latest Nvidia Fermi cards) in flops/watt on the latest top500 list: [] ? And heck, that's on linpack, which should be the pretty much optimal workload for a GPU.
          • What you're looking for is the Green500 list [], where the K computer is #6; behind an ATI GPU+Intel i5 cluster and two NVIDIA Fermi+Intel Xeon clusters (two IBM Blue Gene Q prototypes sit at the top). The first three are fairly small (100+ on the top500), but the NVIDIA systems sit at #5 and #54 on the top500 as well, so it doesn't appear to be a scalability issue. I have no knowledge of the design tradeoffs of the individual systems, but I'd say that it's fairly impressive that both the top500 and the Green5

            • by joib (70841)

              What you're looking for is the Green500 list []

              Indeed, but the site was down when I wrote my previous reply so I had to resort to the top500 list and calculating flops/watt for the few top entries manually. :)

              In any case, as one can see from the list, the best GPU machine manages to beat the K machines by a factor of 1.66, a far cry from the factor of 3-6 you originally claimed. And most GPU machines fall behind the K.

              I think the sparc viiifx is quite impressive, it gets very good flops

              • In any case, as one can see from the list, the best GPU machine manages to beat the K machines by a factor of 1.66, a far cry from the factor of 3-6 you originally claimed. And most GPU machines fall behind the K.

                I was going by the per-chip benchmarks of both the SPARC and of GPUs, since that was what was at hand.

                I think most of these GPU clusters have very high-powered CPUs (eg Xeons) in them. I wonder what the perf per watt would be if you replaced the Xeon with, say, a low-power embedded chip, like an ARM (or an Atom, if you must). Granted, that further limits the types of computations that your supercomputer can do, but it might get you a lot closer to that 3-6x factor for the chip alone.

                Large GPGPU clusters are still a relatively new phenomenon, give it a few years and I suspect you'll see a lot more of them.

                No doubt. When I was doi

        • by gentryx (759438) *

          I'm doing my PhD in HPC. From my perspective GPUs do indeed offer a lot of GFLOPS but it's often impossible to max them out. Especially for stencil codes [] (read: virtually all physical simulation codes) this is hardly possible because of the low operational intensity [] of stencils. CPUs achieve much higher efficiencies here because they can do cache blocking. The caches on e.g. Fermi are much too small to do that well. So no: in this case a GPU won't necessarily yield you a higher performance or efficiency

          As f

  • by Cyko_01 (1092499) on Monday November 07, 2011 @07:46AM (#37971974) Homepage
    facebook is so slow these days!
    • Yeah, and it's also small with all those toolbars. I need a new PC to have a larger browsing segment on IE again.
  • maybe someone with a more recent HPC CS degree can break down this interconnect/routing architecture to me? I loved playing on 3D toroidal meshes, especially on SIMD MasPars (communication penalty was 1 instruction cycle & we could select which processors would execute an instruction...from what I remember).

    Are there any advantages to this topology for certain classes of problems (the MasPars were awesome for matrix math & image processing) ? Or is the sole advantage in routing speed/interconnect tr

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