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May 27, 2014

Fastest Supercomputer Runs Ubuntu, OpenStack

Tiffany Trader
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Although cloud is still widely considered a technology for the masses, the proliferation of cloud within HPC now goes all the way to the highest echelons of supercomputing. China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), which oversees reining TOP500 chart-topper, Tianhe-2, and Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, have entered into a partnership to support both Ubuntu and OpenStack on Tianhe-2.

“The new collaboration with Canonical will enable Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Openstack and Ubuntu’s orchestration tool, Juju, to run Tienhe2,” notes a blog entry from Ubuntu describing the initiative. “Today, Ubuntu OpenStack is running on 256 high performance nodes and this will grow to over 6400 nodes in the coming months. The nodes will be available to Government departments in Guangdong province as well as other NUDT partners for analysis, census, and eGovernment applications.”

“Both OpenStack and Ubuntu’s orchestration tool, Juju, will run on Tianhe-2 to enable NUDT partners and affiliate to rapidly deploy and manage very high performance cloud environments,” the announcement continues. “The Juju orchestration tool makes it easy to design, deploy, scale and manage cloud workloads in OpenStack environments. Workloads running on Tianhe-2 will enjoy higher inter-connect bandwidth and computing power for point heavy or memory intensive application.”

NUDT designed Tianhe-2 in collaboration with Chinese IT firm Inspur. With 33.86 petaflops (LINPACK), Tianhe-2 outperforms its nearest competition, the US Titan supercomputer, by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. The architecture consists of 16,000 nodes – 32,000 Intel Xeon processors and 48,000 Intel Xeon Phi co-processors – for a grand total of 3,120,000 computing cores. Tianhe-2 runs on Kylin Linux, a Linux variant optimized for high performance computing developed by NUDT.

The formal partnership between Canonical and China goes back to 2013, when the company reached an agreement with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China to produce a national operating system for the country. The result was Ubuntu Kylin, “a fully localized and customised version of Ubuntu” developed through a partnership with China Software and Integrated Chip Promotions Centre (CSIP) and NUDT. The third iteration, Ubuntu Kylin 14.04 LTS, released last month, has already reached 1 million downloads according to Canonical.

Tianhe-2 opened for early user access on time and on budget last month. The system is located at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China.

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