Here’s a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week’s HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com and HPCwire.
>>10 words and a link
Sun reports Q2 profit, worried investors keep price low;
Turek riffs on the global picture for HPC;
SGI’s 3rd ranked NM system: delivery-to-boot in 48 hours;
Intel’s Quickpath details out next week;
OSC launches a new IBM cluster;
LSU Offers HPC Class by HD broadcast;
>>Blackbox gets a new name and a few new customers
Sun’s Project Blackbox — originally announced back in October of 2006 (http://www.sun.com/smi/Press/sunflash/2006-10/sunflash.20061017.3.xml) — is back in the news with a new name: “Sun Modular Datacenter (Sun MD)S20,” and a YouTube video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=9XSvC8E-aK0).
The one thing it hasn’t had much of is publicly announced customers. Counting the Stanford Linear Accelerator installation, there was one.
Now, to be fair, I think we’re probably just on the cusp of a potential change in datacenter dynamics in organizations. It’s going to take a while for datacenter customers to be pushed so far beyond their existing infrastructure that they need to move outside. Because that’s what it will take: no one wants their million dollar tour stop housed outside on a gravel pad in a steel box. Unless the only other choice is in a competitor’s facility.
But the company has made surprisingly little traction with what I thought was a reasonable idea despite visiting “73 cities on 4 continents and [having] been toured by more than 12,000 customers and partners,” according to the press release (http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/pr/2008-01/sunflash.20080129.1.xml).
In this week’s release they announced 4 other installations: a second one at SLAC, and units at Hansen Transmissions, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre (UMCN), and Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS).
So, that’s something. If you’re in the market, entry configs start at $559,000 US.
>>ATI graphics board breaks one teraflop
ATI has announced the release of their Radeon HD 3870 X2 GPU, which marks the first graphics processor to break the teraflop barrier. The X2 combines two 55nm Radeon HD 3870 GPUs on a single graphics board connected through CrossFire technology. The mixture combines to nearly double the performance of the original 3870.
One can clearly see that this graphics board is geared directly toward the PC gaming industry. However, the aforementioned technology affirms that given the right application, graphics processors [and other offload computing technologies] could offer a significant benefit to scientific/technical computing.
Read the full post at http://gizmodo.com/349588/ati-breaks-teraflop-barrier-with-radeon-hd-3870-x2-gpu.
>> Korean super may switch to Intel
This week, The Inquirer’s Nebojsa Novakovic reported that AMD is losing its spot as the processor vendor in a Sun Microsystems supercompter for the Korean Institute for Science and Technology Information (KISTI). According to him, because of the Barcelona production delays, Sun is looking to dump the original system spec, which called for 2.5+ GHz Barcelona quad-core CPUs.
[T]he last I heard recently was Sun staff were busily replacing AMD with new 45 nm Intel specs, and the Koreans will now [be using] Intel “eight-brain chips”…
Apparently AMD responded, denying that they were out of the running. Novakovic didn’t appear to be convinced though. In a follow-up piece, he suggested that AMD may already be too late. (Since Sun and KISTI never revealed the terms of their agreement, it’s difficult to know the true story.)
As another data point, in an article published on Thursday, InformationWeek is reporting that AMD is ahead of schedule to deliver bug-free Barcelona processors and will start shipping the chips as early as the end of March. None of this may matter to the Koreans, who seem to be after faster CPUs than the revamped Barcelona parts will offer. Stay tuned.