China taps Nvidia for world's second biggest computer
May 31, 2010 // Rick Merritt, EE Times.com
Using Intel and Nvidia processors, a Chinese computer maker has installed in Shenzhen what experts say theoretically is the fastest supercomputer in the world, an indication both of the rise of China and of graphics processors as a growing ingredient in high-performance but relatively low power systems.
The Nebulae system built from TC3600 blades computers made by China's
Dawning Information Industry Co., Ltd. is the third system to break the
petaflops barrier worldwide. It is ranked second on the latest version
of the Top 500 Supercomputers list released Monday (May 31) in
conjunction with the International Supercomputing conference in
Nebulae was measured with a Linpack performance of 1.271
petaflops/second, below the 1.75 petaflops/s performance of Jaguar at
the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Lab that maintains the top
spot. However Jaguar, a Cray system based on six-core Istanbul
processors from Advanced Micro Devices, has a theoretical peak
capability of 2.3 petaflops/s, well below Nebulae's theoretical peak
performance of 2.98 petaflops/s.
The system, installed at the National Supercomputing Centre in
Shenzhen, uses Intel X5650 processors and Nvidia Tesla C2050 graphics
processors as accelerators. The combination of the latest Intel and
Nvidia chips are credited with giving the system its muscle.
The graphics processors are also relatively power efficient.
The Nebulae system which uses 4,640 Tesla chips, consumes about 2.55
megawatts compared to about 7 MW for Jaguar.
"The performance per power is one of the biggest parts of the
graphics story," said Sumit Gupta, manager of Nvidia's Tesla products,
speaking of the trend toward general-purpose computing with graphics
Average power consumption of a Top 500 system is 397 Kilowatts
and average power efficiency is 195 Mflops/Watt, up from 150
Mflops/Watt a year ago. The most power efficient system on the list
also uses graphics chips. The so-called QPace Cluster based on IBM
PowerXCell 8i processor blades was rated at 774 Mflops/Watt.
Dawning, the maker of the Nebulae system, has been making high-end
computers since 1993 when its Motorola 88000-based system was measured
at 640 megaflops/s. Its most recent series 4000 and 5000 systems used
AMD Opteron processors.
The company has said it will use in future systems China-designed
Loongson 3 processors which have 16 cores each and 8 Mbytes L2 shared
cache. However, to date it has not fielded such systems.
A system similar to Nebulae, the Tianhe-1 installed at the
National Super Computer Center in Tianjin, pairs AMD graphics
processors as accelerators with Intel CPUs to hit number seven on the
Top 500 list. Each node of Tianhe-1 consists of two AMD GPUs attached
to two Intel Xeon processors.
The performance of Nebulae and Tianhe-1 catapulted China into
second place in installed performance at 9.2 percent, still far behind
the U.S. at 55.4 percent but ahead of any other European or Asian
country. China now has 24 systems in the Top 500, tied at fourth place
with Germany whose numbers have been declining steadily.
Intel continues to be the dominant processor supplier to Top 500
systems by far. In the systems themselves, IBM and Hewlett-Packard
continue their neck-and-neck race, with IBM edging out HP in the
A total of 408 systems (81.6 percent) are now using Intel
processors up from 420 systems (80.4 percent) six months ago. AMD's
Opteron is the second most commonly used processor, found in 47 systems
(9.4 percent), up from 42 systems six months ago. IBM follows with its
Power chips in 42 systems (8.4 percent), down from use in 52 systems.
Intel's newest server chip, the Core i7 aka Nehalem-EP, increased its
presence in the list with 186 systems compared with 95 six months ago.
Quad-core processors have saturated the Top 500 with 425 systems using
them. However, processor with six or more cores can already be found in
25 systems and are expected to proliferate quickly.
In terms of systems providers, IBM leads with 198 systems on the list
(39.8 percent) compared to HP with 185 systems (37 percent). Six months
ago, HP had 210 systems (42 percent) compared to IBM with 186 systems
(37.2 percent). Cray, SGI, and Dell follow with 4.2 percent, 3.4
percent and 3.4 percent respectively.
IBM remains the clear leader in performance with 33.6 percent of
installed total performance (down from 35.1 percent), compared to HP
with 20.4 percent (down from 23 percent).
The vast majority of Top 500 systems (424 systems) continue to
use cluster architectures. Gigabit Ethernet continues to be the leading
interconnect, used in 244 systems, followed by InfiniBand with 205
systems, up from 161 a year ago.
The Top 500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of
Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of
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December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
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