Well-known supercomputer vendor Cray introduced what it describes an "aggressively priced" product line on Tuesday aimed at an emerging class of customers delving into high-performance computing (HPC) perhaps for the first time.
Cray's top-end models used by large corporations, big government research centers and university labs require raised-floor data centers, liquid cooling, optical networking cables and run upwards of $10 million to $20 million for a complete system. The new Cray XC30-AC supercomputer uses many of the same components and software elements as those monsters, but it is air cooled, requires no optical cables and costs from $500,000 to $3 million. The target market is Fortune 100 to Fortune 1000 manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and oil and gas firms, and smaller universities, government agencies and research labs that want to exploit supercomputing techniques.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.