Variations on an Opteron Theme

By Michael Feldman

July 14, 2006

This week Sun Microsystems, Inc. introduced three new AMD Opteron-based server products targeted to the high performance computing and enterprise space: the industry's first 4-16 way x64 (64-bit x86) server, a data server that can accommodate up the 24 terabytes of internal disk storage, and Sun's new blade platform.

The three new products are part of Sun's x64 strategy to use the AMD Opteron to expand its server offerings. Last September, Sun entered the x64 space with the introduction of their 2-socket Opteron-based Galaxy servers. Even then, the company was already planning for some of the follow-on systems announced this week.
 
The new Sun Fire X4600 server is the 8-socket big brother to the 2-socket Galaxy servers.  The Opteron-based X4600 also comes in a 4-socket configuration.  By choosing either single-core or dual-core Opterons, the server can scale from a 4-way to a 16-way machine within a single 4U chassis. The X4600 will accommodate 64 GB of shared memory (up to 128 GB in the near future).

“It really is the industry's first 16-way enterprise-class system in a single chassis,” said David Lawler, Director of Product Definition and Strategy at Sun Microsystems. “It's a 4U chassis, so it's relatively dense as well.”

Sun is entering some fairly uncharted territory with it's 8-socket offering for x86-based systems. In the past, most analysts believed that the market for machines like this were rather limited. Sun appears to believe they can position the X4600 at a price point that will be attractive for high-end server customers.

“Historically, 8-socket x86 servers were 32-bit machines (so only four GB of memory) using Xeon MP — which doesn't scale that great — and were priced at a premium,” said Lawler. “[The analysts] were right; there was no market for that. We're actually pricing ours at the 4-socket space, not at the premium price.”

No other Tier 1 vendors are in the x86 8-socket space right now. For example, HP will point customers to their Itanium-based Integrity line if they want something over 4 sockets. But Sun is willing to follow Opteron scalability right into the high-end SMP space. Currently, the architecture supports eight sockets, so that's where Sun is today.

Outside of high performance computing space, the server is destined for database and enterprise consolidation. Within HPC, the X4600 is targeted for Electronic Design Automation (EDA), CAD/CAM applications, and other compute-intensive workloads requiring that can make use of large amounts of shared memory.

It is also suited for scaled out supercomputer platforms. The Tokyo Institute of Technology TSUBAME machine, announced this past May, is actually made up of 655 X4600 servers. The TSUBAME achieves 38 teraflops (sustained), making it the 7th fastest computer in the world based on the Linpack benchmark. It has a total of 10,480 Opteron cores and 21 TB of RAM. All X4600 servers in the Tokyo Tech machine are 8-socket configured. Because Sun designed the CPU/memory modules as upgradable, the TSUBAME machine can expand its computational performance by plugging in quad-core Opterons when they become available next year. To learn more about the TSUBAME supercomputer, read the interview with Professor Satoshi Matsuoka, of the Tokyo Tech's Global Scientific Information and Computing Center, in this week's issue.

In addition to the 600-plus X4600 servers in TSUBAME, the Tokyo Tech machine also incorporates a number of X4500 Sun Fire servers. The X4500, which was also officially introduced this week by Sun, is characterized as a data server, combining Opteron computation with a large amount of integrated SATA storage.  Each 2-socket (4-way) server can accommodate up to 24 TB of data. The TSUBAME machine has 42 such servers for a total of 1.1 petabytes of storage.

Lawler said the X4500 was designed to consolidate the functionality of a server, a SAN switch and a large number of storage arrays. It boasts disk-to-memory sustained data rates of 2 GB/sec, which makes it suited for HPC applications requiring high levels of I/O throughput. In the enterprise it is targeted for data warehousing/business intelligence, digital media streaming and digital surveillance.

“We're calling it the world's first hybrid data server — admittedly a marketing term,” said Lawler. “But it is really a hybrid of server and storage technology.”

The third product announced this week by Sun is their new blade — the Sun Blade 8000 Modular System. The system supports up to ten 4-socket dual-core Opteron blades in a 19U chassis. Sun claims it is the only blade based on industry-standard PCI Express I/O, and the only one with hot-pluggable I/O.  Lawler said it is also designed to be used as a replacement for rackmount servers, offering better energy efficiency and serviceability. The Sun Blade 8000 is targeted for high-throughput computing, such as would be required in many HPC applications.

“Compared to other blade offerings on the market or even compared to other rackmount offerings on the market, we have vastly more I/O in the Sun Blade 8000,” said Lawler. “Each blade has 192 Gbps of I/O. Compared to even other rackmount servers today, that's a lot. It's 2x compared to any other blade offering on the market.”

According to Lawler, the system was designed to scale up to quad-core processors and beyond (along with the associated increase in memory capacity) when that technology becomes available. The rationale behind the upgradability is to give the system a certain amount of longevity not found in competing blades.

“We're going multi-core in a big way; the whole industry is,” said Lawler. “And when you get up to 8-core and 16-core you're going to need a lot more memory and a lot more I/O. Well, memory turns into real estate. If you don't have the real estate on your blade to be able to handle all those DIMMs, you can't put it anywhere, so it doesn't work. We have all that in the Sun Blade 8000. We will also be coming out with a denser chassis, just for HPC.”

The Sun Blade 8000 differs in one fundamental way from most other blade designs — there is no I/O on the individual blades. Other vendors have integrated Ethernet, Fibre Channel or InfiniBand into the blades themselves.  Sun's approach was to use raw native PCI express running right off the blade.

“So I/O becomes an attribute of the chassis,” said Lawler. “Any blade can go into any chassis and it simply works.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Supercomputers Take to the Solar Winds

June 5, 2020

The whims of the solar winds – charged particles flowing from the Sun’s atmosphere – can interfere with systems that are now crucial for modern life, such as satellites and GPS services – but these winds can be d Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC in O&G: Deep Sea Drilling – What Happens Now   

June 4, 2020

At the beginning of March I attended the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. That seems a long time ago now. It’s a great event where oil and gas specialists join with compute veterans and the discussion tell Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCSA’s next generation of supercomputers post-Blue Waters,” Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Integrates Bitfusion for vHPC, GPU ‘Pools’

June 3, 2020

Dell Technologies advanced its hardware virtualization strategy to AI workloads this week with the introduction of capabilities aimed at expanding access to GPU and HPC services via its EMC, VMware and recently acquired Read more…

By George Leopold

Supercomputers Streamline Prediction of Dangerous Arrhythmia

June 2, 2020

Heart arrhythmia can prove deadly, contributing to the hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, many of those arrhythmia are induced as side effects from various medicati Read more…

By Staff report

AWS Solution Channel

Join AWS, Univa and Intel for This Informative Session!

Event Date: June 18, 2020

More enterprises than ever are turning to HPC cloud computing. Whether you’re just getting started, or more mature in your use of cloud, this HPC Cloud webinar is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable insights and knowledge to help accelerate your HPC cloud projects. Read more…

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of computing capability in support of data analysis and AI workload Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCS Read more…

By John Russell

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of comp Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

COVID-19 HPC Consortium Expands to Europe, Reports on Research Projects

May 28, 2020

The COVID-19 HPC Consortium, a public-private effort delivering free access to HPC processing for scientists pursuing coronavirus research – some utilizing AI Read more…

By Doug Black

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Boosts Deep Learning Accuracy on Memristive Chips

May 27, 2020

IBM researchers have taken another step towards making in-memory computing based on phase change (PCM) memory devices a reality. Papers in Nature and Frontiers Read more…

By John Russell

Hats Over Hearts: Remembering Rich Brueckner

May 26, 2020

HPCwire and all of the Tabor Communications family are saddened by last week’s passing of Rich Brueckner. He was the ever-optimistic man in the Red Hat presiding over the InsideHPC media portfolio for the past decade and a constant presence at HPC’s most important events. Read more…

Nvidia Q1 Earnings Top Expectations, Datacenter Revenue Breaks $1B

May 22, 2020

Nvidia’s seemingly endless roll continued in the first quarter with the company announcing blockbuster earnings that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Nvidia Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Contributors

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This