US works to regain supercomputer lead

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee has completed the first phase of an upgrade to Jaguar, the US’ most powerful supercomputer, boosting it from 2.3 to 3.3Pflop.

More is to come.

“When the upgrade process is completed this autumn, the system will be renamed Titan and will be capable of 10 to 20Pflops,” said Oak Ridge. “We have already seen the positive impact on applications, for example in computational fluid dynamics, from the doubled memory.”

Jaguar was made by Cray.

Phase one upgraded its AMD Opteron cores to the newest 6200 series and increased their number by a third, from 224,256 to 299,008.

Two six-core Opteron processors were removed from each of Jaguar’s 18,688 nodes and replaced with a single 16-core processor. At the same time, the system’s interconnect was updated to Gemini, and its memory was doubled to 600Tbytes.

“The new Gemini interconnect is much more scalable,” said Jack Wells, the computer’s director of science, “helping applications like molecular dynamics that have demanding network communication requirements.”

In addition, 960 of the nodes now also contain an NVIDIA graphical processing unit.

“The GPUs were added to the system in anticipation of a much larger GPU installation later in the year,” said Oak Ridge. “The GPUs act as accelerators, giving researchers a serious boost in computing power in a far more energy-efficient system.”

It is the GPUs that will enable Titan to reach 10-20Pflop within the same space as Jaguar “and with essentially the same power requirements” – It is unclear if the predicted figures are sustained or peak performance.

“This is going to be an exciting year in Oak Ridge as our users take advantage of our new XK6 architecture and get ready for the new NVIDIA Kepler GPUs in the fall,” Wells said. “A lot of work by many people is beginning to pay off.”

In last November’s ‘Top 500‘ computer ranking, Japan’s Fujitsu-built ‘K Computer’ retained its top position of 10.51Pflops on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 cores.

Partially built, K Computer took the number one spot in June 2011 with 8.16 Pflop.

“Contrary to many other recent very large systems, it does not utilize graphics processors or other accelerators. The K Computer is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the list,” said the Top 500 organisation in November.

In November, Jaguar, which was a Cray XT5 then, was delivering 1.75Petaflop running the standard Linpack benchmark application.

Tags: Supercomputer

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