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August 5, 2010

The Week in Review

by Tiffany Trader

Here is a collection of highlights from this week’s news stream as reported by HPCwire.

Virginia Tech to Build New Supercomputer

Queensland Centre for Medical Genomics Selects SGI Storage Solution

Australia’s iVEC Announces New POD from HP

GenomeQuest, SGI Announce Whole-Genome Analysis Architecture

HPC Project Launches First Par4all Dedicated to GPU Computing

Tilera Partners with Octera Solutions

Analytical Services Uses Sabalcore’s HPC On-Demand Services

ScaleMP Experiences Record Growth in Q2

Revolution Analytics Brings Big Data Analysis to R Language

Galicia Launches Its First Masters in Supercomputing

Hawaii Open Supercomputing Center to Receive $5M

Program to Train Researchers at the Intersection of Engineering, Biology

IU Receives $9.2M from NSF to Expand Global Networks

NSF Awards Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center $2.8M Toward Shared-Memory System

PRACE Awards 320 Million Compute Hours to Ten European Research Projects

Cray Again

Cray announced last week that it had shipped its first XT6, but we had to wait a full week before learning the name of the customer. On Monday, we found out that the new supercomputer was used in upgrading the UK National Supercomputing service, HECToR. HECToR, which stands for “High End Computing Terascale Resources,” is hosted by the EPCC (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) at the Advanced Computing Facility, a supercomputing center based at the University of Edinburgh.

From the release:

The Cray XT6 is contained in 20 cabinets and comprises 464 compute blades. Each blade includes 4 compute nodes, and each compute node comprises two 12-core AMD Opteron 2.1GHz Magny Cours processors. This amounts to a total of 44,544 cores.

Each 12-core socket is coupled with a Cray SeaStar2 routing and communications chip. This will be upgraded in late 2010 to the Cray Gemini interconnect. Each 12-core processor shares 16GB of memory, giving a system total of 59.4 TB.

The theoretical peak performance of the system is over 360 teraflops, earning it a 16th place ranking on the June 2010 TOP500 list.

The installation of the new XT6 system started in late May and took less than a month to complete. The system passed its acceptance and is online.

For more details on HECToR’s hardware and software, go to http://www.hector.ac.uk/service/hardware/.

All the activity surrounding the new XT6 systems could not boost Cray’s Q2 earnings statement, which showed a 54 percent drop in sales. Bleak numbers to be sure, but CEO Peter Ungaro remains hopeful, stating that in a five month period this year, they expect to ship over six-times more compute power than in all of 2009. Note that’s “compute power” not computers, but still not bad.

As I touched on in last week’s Week in Review, it seemed Cray was preparing investors for this week’s financial report by explaining that revenue does not occur based on shipment, but rather based on the customer’s formal acceptance of a system, which is “typically…a multi-week process.” In fact, Cray again refers to the importance of these acceptance dates in the Outlook section of the Q2 financial statement: “Many variables may impact our results, but one significant item is the timing of customer acceptances of our supercomputers.” The release goes on to say that if those customer acceptances go as planned in 2010, the company anticipates revenue in the range of $305 to $325 million for 2010, with the vast majority being recognized in the fourth quarter.

Grid-X (Finally) Comes Out of Hiding

Grid-X comes out stealth mode. This week SeaFire Micros announced that it is the creator of Grid-X, a cloud computing architecture that accelerates processor and TCP/IP speeds for 100 Gigabit Ethernet networks. The technology was demonstrated in July to key customers and technology partners in the aerospace, defense, and supercomputing industries.

TCP/IP offload engines are typically used to accelerate the speed at which grids, clusters or supercomputers process data, but Grid-X can be used for other applications too, such as those running on mobile devices.

From the release:

The patent-pending Grid-X architecture is one of SeaFire’s green initiatives. Grid-X has shown to require 50-75 percent less computing resources and generates less heat than present backplane or battery powered solutions. For mobile devices, this capability allows extended use of data-intensive applications with minimal drain on the battery.

We first heard about the Grid-X technology several years ago, and even wrote a feature on it. Yes, it’s from three years ago; and they’ve been mum ever since until this week’s debut.