SAN JOSE, Calif. The day after Google announced a new initiative to pack Linux into mobile handsets, supercomputer designer Cray is announcing a system it claims will be its biggest computers to use the open source operating system. Cray claims its new XT5 systems advance the limits of how many x86 and hybrid processor types it packs into a single system.
The number of cores in supercomputers has skyrocketed from about 1,000 in the late 1990's to nearly 21,000 in high-end configurations possible this year, Cray said. For its part the Cray XT5 now packs as many as eight Advanced Micro Devices quad-core processors on a single board. A basic configuration uses 1,112 CPUs in six racks to deliver 43 TFlops of peak performance.
"As far as I know this is the highest density of Opterons you can buy in a system," said Jan Silverman, senior vice president of corporate strategy.
Cray will pack vector processors and reconfigurable FPGA boards along with the x86 chips in a separate system, the XT5h. The system is the company's first to use Linux across its vector processors rather than a custom lightweight kernel. A handful of Linux software developers including Exa Corp., Livermore Software Technology Corp. and Software Cradle have pledged they will support the new systems.
"The stalling out of standard microprocessor speeds is starting to spark a rebirth of computers that augment microprocessors with other processor types including vector processors, GPUs, accelerators and FPGAs," said Earl Joseph, a senior analyst at International Data Corp., speaking in a prepared statement.