Cray has just fired a nuclear salvo in the supercomputer wars with the launch of its XC30, a 100 petaflop-capable brute that can scale up to one million cores. Developed in conjunction with DARPA, the Cascade-codenamed system uses a new type of architecture called Aries interconnect and Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors to easily leapfrog its recent Titan sibling, the previous speed champ. That puts Cray well ahead of rivals like China’s Tianhe-2, and the company will aim to keep that edge by supercharging future versions with Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs. High-end research centers have placed $100 million worth of orders so far (though oddly, DARPA isn’t one of them yet), and units are already shipping in limited numbers — likely by the eighteen-wheeler-full, from the looks of it.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory launched a new era of scientific supercomputing today with Titan, a system capable of churning through more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second—or 20 petaflops—by employing a family of processors called graphic processing units first created for computer gaming. Titan will be 10 times more powerful than ORNL’s last world-leading system, Jaguar, while overcoming power and space limitations inherent in the previous generation of high-performance computers.
Titan, which is supported by the Department of Energy, will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials and other disciplines and pave the way for a wide range of achievements in science and technology.
The Cray XK7 system contains 18,688 nodes, with each holding a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and an NVIDIA Tesla K20 graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerator. Titan also has more than 700 terabytes of memory. The combination of central processing units, the traditional foundation of high-performance computers, and more recent GPUs will allow Titan to occupy the same space as its Jaguar predecessor while using only marginally more electricity.