SEOUL, South Korea—Cray Inc. will use Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Tesla graphics processors from Nvidia Corp. to build a supercomputer with a peak speed between 10 and 20 petaflops, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratories.
The system, to be known as Titan, is expected to be ready in early 2013, according to Oak Ridge Labs. A system capable of operating at between 10 and 20 peteflops—performing between 10 and 20 million billion calculations per second—would shatter the current world record for supercomputer speed.
As of June, the record was held by the K Computer at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, which was clocked at more than 8 petaflops. The K Computer broke the record held as of November 2010 by the Tianhe-1a system in Tianjin, China, which is capable of 2.5 petaflops.
The Titan is an upgrade to Oak Ridge Labs' Jaguar supercomputer—the Cray XT5 system, currently capable of 2.3 petaflops. The Titan Cray XK6 system will offer advanced capabilities in modeling and simulation, according to Oak Ridge Labs.
Titan will boast 299,008 cores and 600 terabytes of memory, Oak Ridge Labs said. It will run computationally intense numerical experiments focused on Dept. of Energy priorities in energy technology and science research, including the assisting in the commercially viable production of biofuels and biomaterials from cellulosic materials like switch grass and trees, according to Oak Ridge Labs.
Simulations will also aid the development of new materials for photocells that will convert more sunlight into electricity and new battery technology to store that energy for use when the sun isn't shining, according to Oak Ridge Labs. Titan's users will also study safe extension of the lifecycles of nuclear power plants, according to Oak Ridge.
"All of these areas of science will benefit from Titan's enormous increase in computational power," said Oak Ridge Labs Director Thom Mason, in a statement. "Titan will allow for significantly greater realism in models and simulations and the resulting scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations will provide the return on this national investment. Discoveries that take weeks even on a system as powerful as Jaguar might take days on Titan."
According to Oak Ridge Labs, the Titan supercomputer will achieve speeds of between 10 and 20 petaflops, dwarfing the power of its predecessor, the Jaguar (shown). Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Labs.
The initial system upgrade will replace all of the Jaguar processors with the latest AMD Opteron processors, codenamed "Interlagos," taking the system from two six-core processors per node to one 16-core processor per node, Oak Ridge Labs said. The initial system upgrade will also facilitate the addition of graphics processing units (GPUs), it said.
One of the first deployments of the latest generation of AMD Opteron processors, the upgrade will deliver one-third more cores in the same physical space compared with Jaguar while also doubling the memory and outfitting the system with Cray's "Gemini" network to improve performance on scientific applications, Oak Ridge said.
"But the game-changing new technology will be the inclusion of advanced GPUs," Mason said. "These Tesla GPUs are able to perform many more calculations for the same amount of power as conventional microprocessors and will work hand-in-hand with CPUs to deliver new levels of energy-efficient application acceleration."
The first phone of the upgrade will entail replacement of all of the processor boards, memory and system interconnect network in Jaguar with the new Cray XK6 processor board and include approximately 1,000 Nvidia Tesla 20-series GPUs, according to Buddy Bland, project director for the upgrade.
According to Oak Ridge Labs, the GPUs will allow users to begin modifying their scientific applications to work well with the new technology. In the second phase, to be performed in the second half of 2012, between 7,000 and 18,000 of Nvidia's next-generation Tesla GPUs will be added to the system, increasing the peak performance to between 10 and 20 petaflops, depending on architectural options executed, Oak Ridge Labs said.
The upgrade is being supported by funding from the Dept. of Energy's Office of Science, Oak Ridge Labs said.
@DylanMcGrath: any info on the interconnect fabric for the Titan? The TianHe Chinese supercomputer used 20Gbps (InfiniBand-like) interconnects if I remember correctly (Rick Merrit's article on EE Times?) so I am curious if Titan makes use of faster interconnects between servers.