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Supercomputing Hardware Technology

100 Million-Core Supercomputers Coming By 2018 286

CWmike writes "As amazing as today's supercomputing systems are, they remain primitive and current designs soak up too much power, space and money. And as big as they are today, supercomputers aren't big enough — a key topic for some of the estimated 11,000 people now gathering in Portland, Ore. for the 22nd annual supercomputing conference, SC09, will be the next performance goal: an exascale system. Today, supercomputers are well short of an exascale. The world's fastest system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, according to the just released Top500 list, is a Cray XT5 system, which has 224,256 processing cores from six-core Opteron chips made by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). The Jaguar is capable of a peak performance of 2.3 petaflops. But Jaguar's record is just a blip, a fleeting benchmark. The US Department of Energy has already begun holding workshops on building a system that's 1,000 times more powerful — an exascale system, said Buddy Bland, project director at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility that includes Jaguar. The exascale systems will be needed for high-resolution climate models, bio energy products and smart grid development as well as fusion energy design. The latter project is now under way in France: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which the US is co-developing. They're expected to arrive in 2018 — in line with Moore's Law — which helps to explain the roughly 10-year development period. But the problems involved in reaching exaflop scale go well beyond Moore's Law."
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100 Million-Core Supercomputers Coming By 2018

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  • Re:AMD vs Intel (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eharley ( 214725 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:25PM (#30119854)

    I believe AMD was the first mass market CPU to include an on-board memory controller.

  • by David Greene ( 463 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:33PM (#30120006)

    Note that these computers are aimed at solving a particular problem (e.g. modeling weather) and not at being a vehicle to quickly solve any problem.

    That's not entirely accurate. HPC systems are designed to solve a class of problems. That's not the same thing as a "particular" problem. Jaguar has, in fact, solved many different problems, including fluid flow, weather, nuclear fusion and supernova modeling. It's not going to run Word any faster than your PC but that's not what you buy a supercomputer to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:36PM (#30120038)

    What on Earth? You're bringing PHP and "rendering PDF reports" into a discussion about HPC? And you propose Erlang as some kind of solution? Nobody doing HPC is using Erlang. As usual for Slashdot, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

  • Re:100 Million? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:40PM (#30120122) Journal

    One Million Cores and one Sun hot mentioned in the same post, coincidence? I think not!

  • Re:AMD vs Intel (Score:4, Informative)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:57PM (#30120464)
    I'd be guessing but here are three possible reasons AMD might be in that place:
    1.) Value, ie. lower cost per processor
    2.) Opteron has built in straight forward 4-way and 8-way multiprocessor connectivity, Xeon was limited to 2-way connectivity without extra bridge hardware, until recently.
    3.) Opteron has higher memory bandwidth than P4 or Core 2 arch.
  • Re:AMD vs Intel (Score:2, Informative)

    by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:09PM (#30120636) Journal

    Easy CPU upgrades because the socket interface stay the same.

    Some of those supoercomputers might have gone from dual-core 2GHz Opteron K8s through quad-core Opteron K10s to these new sexa-core Opteron K10.5s with only the need to change the CPUs and the memory.

    Or possibly if the upgrades were done at a board level, HyperTransport has remained compatible, so your new board of 24 cores just slots into your expensive, custom, HyperTransport-based back-end. To switch to Intel would require designing a QPI-based back-end.

    Of course Magny-Cours and Bulldozer will use the G34 socket, so that's not a plug-in and go upgrade when they come out in 2010 and 2011 respectively. But it will be a stable platform for several years itself, and thus be attractive.

  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @04:27PM (#30120882) Journal

    When a computer develops a mind of it's own in a logical manner it's starting to reach the human level and we can start to discuss if it's primitive or not. If it starts to reproduce on it's own it's time to be careful.

    That's not directly related to computing power per se. A computer 100 000 000 times as powerful as today's, running today's software will still not have developed a mind of its own. It'll just be very, very fast indeed.

BLISS is ignorance.