[email protected] Tops 5 Petaflops

By Michael Feldman

February 24, 2009

Last week, the [email protected] team reported that they achieved five petaflops of processing power for their popular protein folding research project, which relies on processor cycles contributed by hundreds of thousands of people. That’s more processing power than can be found at any single US DOE lab or supercomputing center. What’s more, the five teraflops corresponds to real application performance for the project’s protein simulation software, so we’re not just talking peak hardware performance.

Perhaps even more impressive is that the project crossed the one petaflop mark only 18 months ago, on Sept. 16, 2007. At this rate, they’ll hit an exaflop in about five years. But it’s doubtful whether the Folders will really be so fortunate. Most of the performance increase over the last year and a half was the result of the GPGPU revolution. In September 2007, the project had a mere 42 teraflops of GPUs working for them. Today that number stands at 3,295 teraflops (3 petaflops). Two thirds of those are NVIDIA GPUs; one third are ATI (AMD) GPUs.

The remainder of the performance increase over the last year and a half was gleaned from Cell BE-based PlayStation3 consoles and CPU-based PCs and workstations. While more GPU-based systems will surely be added to the [email protected] infrastructure in the future, the increased performance will likely follow more of a Moore’s Law type curve (albeit an accelerated one that corresponds to the faster evolution of GPUs).

In sheer computing power the five petaflop [email protected] infrastructure represents more than four times the Linpack performance of the 1.1 petaflop IBM Roadrunner supercomputer at Los Alamos. Of course, that’s an apples-to-oranges comparison since supercomputers are monolithic machines built for tightly-coupled applications. [email protected] works more like a typical distributed computing system, where an application is divvied up over a large number of machines and then the results are aggregated. Some purists wouldn’t call [email protected] a supercomputer at all since it doesn’t exist as a stand-alone system. Nevertheless, the Folders are doing real HPC work and are pushing the envelope in both high-end computing and protein modeling.

Whether [email protected] can stay ahead of the supercomputing performance curve remains to be seen. Depending upon the kindness of strangers may turn out to be a precarious model for ultra-scale computing. The advent of cloud computing means over-provisioned PCs may end up morphing into thin clients with much less processing power to share. On the other hand, if our client systems become the visual computing platform of choice — as Intel, AMD and NVIDIA seem to be angling for — our PCs and even televisions will be chock-full of GPUs, multicore CPUs or some hybrid of the two. In that case, the Folders will continue to have a large reservoir of machines to tap into.

Getting to an exaflop on a distributed computing platform shouldn’t be all that difficult. When you consider that a high-end gaming GPU today offers more than a teraflop of peak performance, you would need only a million or so client machines to get an aggregated peak exaflop. Only some fraction of that will translate into application performance, but considering that GPUs continue to get more powerful and the software is getting better at extracting performance, exaflop protein folding is certainly within reach.

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!

Nvidia Touts Strong Results on Financial Services Inference Benchmark

February 3, 2023

The next-gen Hopper family may be on its way, but that isn’t stopping Nvidia’s popular A100 GPU from leading another benchmark on its way out. This time, it’s the STAC-ML inference benchmark, produced by the Securi Read more…

Quantum Computing Firm Rigetti Faces Delisting

February 3, 2023

Quantum computing companies are seeing their market caps crumble as investors patiently await out the winner-take-all approach to technology development. Quantum computing firms such as Rigetti Computing, IonQ and D-Wave went public through mergers with blank-check companies in the last two years, with valuations at the time of well over $1 billion. Now the market capitalization of these companies are less than half... Read more…

US and India Strengthen HPC, Quantum Ties Amid Tech Tension with China

February 2, 2023

Last May, the United States and India announced the “Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology” (iCET), aimed at expanding the countries’ partnerships in strategic technologies and defense industries across th Read more…

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Enables Transparent Medicare Outcome AI

February 2, 2023

Medical applications of AI are replete with promise, but stymied by opacity: with lives on the line, concerns over AI models’ often-inscrutable reasoning – and as a result, possible biases embedded in those models Read more…

Europe’s LUMI Supercomputer Has Officially Been Accepted

February 1, 2023

“LUMI is officially here!” proclaimed the headline of a blog post written by Pekka Manninen, director of science and technology for CSC, Finland’s state-owned IT center. The EuroHPC-organized supercomputer’s most Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 2069893598

Cost-effective and accurate genomics analysis with Sentieon on AWS

This blog post was contributed by Don Freed, Senior Bioinformatics Scientist, and Brendan Gallagher, Head of Business Development at Sentieon; and Olivia Choudhury, PhD, Senior Partner Solutions Architect, Sujaya Srinivasan, Genomics Solutions Architect, and Aniket Deshpande, Senior Specialist, HPC HCLS at AWS. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1453953692

Microsoft and NVIDIA Experts Talk AI Infrastructure

As AI emerges as a crucial tool in so many sectors, it’s clear that the need for optimized AI infrastructure is growing. Going beyond just GPU-based clusters, cloud infrastructure that provides low-latency, high-bandwidth interconnects and high-performance storage can help organizations handle AI workloads more efficiently and produce faster results. Read more…

Intel’s Gaudi3 AI Chip Survives Axe, Successor May Combine with GPUs

February 1, 2023

Intel's paring projects and products amid financial struggles, but AI products are taking on a major role as the company tweaks its chip roadmap to account for more computing specifically targeted at artificial intellige Read more…

Quantum Computing Firm Rigetti Faces Delisting

February 3, 2023

Quantum computing companies are seeing their market caps crumble as investors patiently await out the winner-take-all approach to technology development. Quantum computing firms such as Rigetti Computing, IonQ and D-Wave went public through mergers with blank-check companies in the last two years, with valuations at the time of well over $1 billion. Now the market capitalization of these companies are less than half... Read more…

US and India Strengthen HPC, Quantum Ties Amid Tech Tension with China

February 2, 2023

Last May, the United States and India announced the “Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology” (iCET), aimed at expanding the countries’ partnership Read more…

Intel’s Gaudi3 AI Chip Survives Axe, Successor May Combine with GPUs

February 1, 2023

Intel's paring projects and products amid financial struggles, but AI products are taking on a major role as the company tweaks its chip roadmap to account for Read more…

Roadmap for Building a US National AI Research Resource Released

January 31, 2023

Last week the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force released its final report and roadmap for building a national AI infrastructure to include comput Read more…

PFAS Regulations, 3M Exit to Impact Two-Phase Cooling in HPC

January 27, 2023

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals,” pose a number of health risks to humans, with more suspected but not yet confirmed Read more…

Multiverse, Pasqal, and Crédit Agricole Tout Progress Using Quantum Computing in FS

January 26, 2023

Europe-based quantum computing pioneers Multiverse Computing and Pasqal, and global bank Crédit Agricole CIB today announced successful conclusion of a 1.5-yea Read more…

Critics Don’t Want Politicians Deciding the Future of Semiconductors

January 26, 2023

The future of the semiconductor industry was partially being decided last week by a mix of politicians, policy hawks and chip industry executives jockeying for Read more…

Riken Plans ‘Virtual Fugaku’ on AWS

January 26, 2023

The development of a national flagship supercomputer aimed at exascale computing continues to be a heated competition, especially in the United States, the Euro Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

SC22 Booth Videos

AMD @ SC22
Altair @ SC22
AWS @ SC22
Ayar Labs @ SC22
CoolIT @ SC22
Cornelis Networks @ SC22
DDN @ SC22
Dell Technologies @ SC22
HPE @ SC22
Intel @ SC22
Intelligent Light @ SC22
Lancium @ SC22
Lenovo @ SC22
Microsoft and NVIDIA @ SC22
One Stop Systems @ SC22
Penguin Solutions @ SC22
QCT @ SC22
Supermicro @ SC22
Tuxera @ SC22
Tyan Computer @ SC22
  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire