Cray has unveiled a XC30 supercomputer capable of high-performance computing (HPC) workloads of more than 100 petaflops. Originally code-named “Cascade,” the system relies on Intel Xeon processors and Aries interconnect chipset technology, paired with Cray’s integrated software environment.
Specifically, the XC30 will rely on processors from the Intel Xeon E5-2600 family, with the ability to scale up to one million cores per system. Cray touts the XC30’s ability to utilize a wide variety of processor types; future versions of the platform will apparently feature Intel Xeon Phi and Nvidia Tesla GPUs based on the Kepler GPU computing architecture. The cooling array relies on traverse airflow to lower system temperature.
On the software side of the equation, the Cray Linux Environment supports a variety of ISV (independent software vendor) applications. Cray leveraged its work with DARPA’s High Productivity Computing Systems program in order to design and build the XC30.
Supercomputer centers that have signed contracts to purchase the new system include the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland, and the Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies (ACCMS) at Kyoto University, among others. The systems should be available in the first quarter of 2013.
Cray’s XC30 isn’t the only supercomputer aiming for that 100-petaflop crown. China’s Guangzhou Supercomputing Center recently announced the development of a Tianhe-2 supercomputer theoretically capable of 100 petaflops, but that system isn’t due to launch until 2015.
According to the IDG News Service, the Chinese government wants its supercomputers to exceed 1 exaflop, or 1,000 petaflops, by 2018. But it faces some significant competition in the high-performance space: one of its biggest geopolitical rivals, India, is developing a roadmap to build the world’s fastest supercomputer by 2017; the United States, meanwhile, boasts what’s considered the world’s most powerful supercomputer, “Sequoia.”
Housed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., Sequoia uses 16-core, 1.6-GHz POWER BQC chips, the same that power the DOE’s Mira Supercomputer at the Argonne National Laboratory. (The Top500 list, published twice a year, is considered the authoritative ranking of the world’s supercomputers.) The DOE uses Sequoia to simulate nuclear weapons tests, specifically how materials will react at extreme pressures and temperatures.
Cray also faces significant competition in the realm of super-computer makers: it only built 5.4 percent of the systems on the Top500 list, compared to IBM with 42.6 percent and Hewlett-Packard with 27.6 percent. However, Cray also leads Appro (3.6 percent) and SGI and Bull (3.2 percent each).