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The endless hunt for the top!

The new Top500-list of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world is out now and the
Japanese domain the top again!
How did they do that? Well, read the full article about their new wonder machine, it’s
specs and technical data…

The picture shows the giant beast that holds Rank 1 on the top 500 supercomputer list.

Fujitsu has installed the K-Computer consisting of 65’844 SPARC VIIIfx CPU’s rated at 2’0 GHz (each with 8 cores) that gives it a total of over half a million cores to compute (548’352 cores to be exact!). Housed in 874 standard 42HE 19inch-Racks, the computer is able to perform about 8 quadrillion(!!!) operations per second. That’s quite a large number:

8’773’632’000’000’000 (8.773 PFlops/s)

To give you an example what a standard 6-core Intel of 2011 may compute for you:

123’000’000’000 (0.000123 PFlops/s)

That’s approx 1/70’000 of the calculating power!

Even powerful graphics cards such as the AMD Radeon 6990 (a dual GPU card) may render

4’100’000’000’000 (0.004 PFlops/s)

which is an interesting 1/4350 of the power of the above super computer. Yet are GPUs not intended for long-term Floatingpoint-numbercrunching with double precision.
However time is moving an and the GPU gets involved more and more into calculation operations. Newer CPUs that are being released in the future are more familiar with the term “APU” which stands for Accelerated Processiong Unit and compines the calculation power of todays GPU and CPU into one logical unit.

I still wonder why one could need so much calculation power yet it seems to be a prestige object everyone is spending millions of dollars for.

Another thing might be to build a super computer consisting of today’s GPUs. Imagine 32768 AMD 6990 GPUs together.

That would come to a theoretical calculation power of

134’348’800’000’000’000 (134.3 PFlops/s)!!!

However I doubt that there will be such project in the near future and the fact that such a supercomputer might drain 13 MW out of the power grid compared to a rather moderate 6 MW of today’s published supercomputer (yet it is a good Flops/s to Watt ratio for the GPU solution!) there could be also a cooling problem.

However in about 6 months, AMD will probably have issued their long-awaited Bulldozer APUs which suppose to be rather powersaving yet powerful and the list may have changed again then! Interesting is that no lower-than-1-tflops-supercomputer is any longer on the top 500 list!

You can view the whole list here:

To mention Europe’s super computers:

France: Rank 9 with approx 1.260 PFlops/s
Germany: Rank 12 with approx 1.050 PFlops/s
Switzerland: Rank 44 with 0.168 PFlops/s
Denmark: Rank 53 with 0.151 PFlops/s
Italy: Rank 54 with 0.145 PFlops/s

(Just to name some of them!)

June 20, 2011 Netspark - 1594 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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