TACC Donates First-of-Its-Kind Magnum Switch to Computer History Museum

July 12, 2018

July 12, 2018 — Supercomputers are the sports cars of the technology world: fast, glamorous and expensive.

Credit: Dag Spicer, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA

This might be why Dag Spicer, senior curator at the Computer History Museum, finds them fascinating. Recently, Spicer and his team in Mountain View, CA, unanimously accepted a piece of TACC’s history into their permanent historical collection — sealing its place as a milestone in computing.

“We’re always searching around the world for new, interesting, and important computing objects,” Spicer said in a recent interview, “and TACC’s Sun Microsystems 2007 Magnum switch was a critical part of high-performance computing (HPC) at that time in history. The TACC switch was the largest of its class and is an example of Infiniband technology, of which we had few examples.”

With more than 100,000 objects in its collection, the Computer History Museum is home to the largest collection of computers and related materials in the world.

The Sun Microsystems Magnum Infiniband switch was part of TACC’s Ranger supercomputer system, in effect connecting the tens of thousands of Ranger’s processors together into a blazingly fast high-speed interconnected network. Specifically, Ranger was a network of 62,976 cores packed into 15,744 quad-core microprocessors.

In 2008, the Ranger system was the first supercomputer in open science to approach the petascale performance mark at 579.4 teraflops — that’s one thousand million million floating-point operations per second. At the time, the $59 million award to build the system was the largest single National Science Foundation (NSF) grant ever received by The University of Texas at Austin.

Ranger debuted as the fifth most powerful computer in the world on the June 2008 Top 500 list, and it was hailed by the NSF as the most powerful supercomputing system in the world for open science research — up to 50,000 times more powerful than a PC at the time.

Everything about Ranger was big — the idea, the award, the system, the desire to do bigger and better science.

The technology that goes into a supercomputer is cutting-edge and impressive, but more importantly, supercomputers help solve the grand challenge problems facing society today and in the future ― problems such as global climate change, water resource management, new energy sources, natural disasters, new materials and manufacturing processes, tissue and organ engineering, patient-specific medical therapies, and drug design.

These issues cannot be addressed or overcome without computing modeling and simulation on HPC systems like Ranger and its follow-on systems.

Founded in 1979 in Boston, but later moved to Mountain View in 1996, the Computer History Museum uses their collections to teach people aged five to 95 about computing and the impact it has on nearly aspect of their daily lives. “We talk about the social consequences of computers and we explain the objects in the context of their own time,” Spicer says.

For example, the museum has the world’s first disk drive made by IBM in 1956. It held only five million 6-bit characters (about 3.75 megabytes), which is equivalent to a single,short song on an iPod. However, at the time, IBM’s goal was to use this disk drive to replace punched cards. Until the mid-1970s, most computer access was via punched cards. “Context is everything,” Spicer says.

“Behind nearly every artifact, exhibit, and pioneering effort is a story that the museum is dedicated to understand and tell,” says Gordon Bell, a pioneer in HPC and parallel computing and co-founder of the museum. “It’s the world’s only institution dedicated to the industry-wide preservation of information processing devices and documentation.”

The other co-founder is Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation. The company was a major American company in the computer industry from the 1950s to the 1990s and specialized in making minicomputers.

In some ways, the museum founders and curators like to think 500 years into the future. “The last 70 years we’ve progressed from mechanical calculators to computers so fast they almost transcend human understanding,” Spicer says. “And yet for the types of problems they are being asked to solve, they are never fast enough. What can we expect in just the next 20 years, let alone the next century? CHM exists to keep an object-based record of this stunning progress.”

Exascale computing, a billion billion calculations per second, is not a final goal in and of itself. Rather it is another stage in what has been a steady rocket blast in computing power since the 1970s. Such capacity represents a thousandfold increase over Ranger, the first ‘Path to Petascale’ computer that came into operation in 2008. Experts say that the open science community may hit the Exascale era by 2021.

“I’m hoping we’ll do a new exhibit here when that time comes,” Spicer concludes, “as it will mark a milestone unimaginable to the original inventors of the computer and the culmination of decades of careful, incremental change. In science, computing power equals discovery. Exascale computing will give us new, thrilling new ways of seeing the world and of solving the critical problems that humanity is facing right now.”


Source: Faith Singer-Villalobos, TACC

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!

Global QC Market Projected to Grow to More Than $800 million by 2024

September 28, 2020

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C) and Hyperion Research are projecting that the global quantum computing (QC) market - worth an estimated $320 million in 2020 - will grow at an anticipated 27% CAGR betw Read more…

By Staff Reports

DoE’s ASCAC Backs AI for Science Program that Emulates the Exascale Initiative

September 28, 2020

Roughly a year after beginning formal efforts to explore an AI for Science initiative the Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee last week accepted a subcommittee report calling for a t Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer Research Aims to Supercharge COVID-19 Antiviral Remdesivir

September 25, 2020

Remdesivir is one of a handful of therapeutic antiviral drugs that have been proven to improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients, and as such, is a crucial weapon in the fight against the pandemic – especially in the abse Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

NOAA Announces Major Upgrade to Ensemble Forecast Model, Extends Range to 35 Days

September 23, 2020

A bit over a year ago, the United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) received a major upgrade: a new dynamical core – its first in 40 years – called the finite-volume cubed-sphere, or FV3. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is bringing the FV3 dynamical core to... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AI Silicon Startup Graphcore Launches Channel Partner Program

September 23, 2020

AI compute platform vendor Graphcore has launched its first formal global channel partner program to promote and boost the sales of its AI processors and blade computing products. The formalized, all-new Graphcore Elite Partner Program follows the company’s past history of working with several... Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

AWS Solution Channel

The Water Institute of the Gulf runs compute-heavy storm surge and wave simulations on AWS

The Water Institute of the Gulf (Water Institute) runs its storm surge and wave analysis models on Amazon Web Services (AWS)—a task that sometimes requires large bursts of compute power. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Berlin Institute of Health: Putting HPC to Work for the World

Researchers from the Center for Digital Health at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) are using science to understand the pathophysiology of COVID-19, which can help to inform the development of targeted treatments. Read more…

Arm Targets HPC with New Neoverse Platforms

September 22, 2020

UK-based semiconductor design company Arm today teased details of its Neoverse roadmap, introducing V1 (codenamed Zeus) and N2 (codenamed Perseus), Arm’s second generation N-series platform. The chip IP vendor said the new platforms will deliver 50 percent and 40 percent more... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DoE’s ASCAC Backs AI for Science Program that Emulates the Exascale Initiative

September 28, 2020

Roughly a year after beginning formal efforts to explore an AI for Science initiative the Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Commit Read more…

By John Russell

NOAA Announces Major Upgrade to Ensemble Forecast Model, Extends Range to 35 Days

September 23, 2020

A bit over a year ago, the United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) received a major upgrade: a new dynamical core – its first in 40 years – called the finite-volume cubed-sphere, or FV3. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is bringing the FV3 dynamical core to... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Arm Targets HPC with New Neoverse Platforms

September 22, 2020

UK-based semiconductor design company Arm today teased details of its Neoverse roadmap, introducing V1 (codenamed Zeus) and N2 (codenamed Perseus), Arm’s second generation N-series platform. The chip IP vendor said the new platforms will deliver 50 percent and 40 percent more... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oracle Cloud Deepens HPC Embrace with Launch of A100 Instances, Plans for Arm, More 

September 22, 2020

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) continued its steady ramp-up of HPC capabilities today with a flurry of announcements. Topping the list is general availabilit Read more…

By John Russell

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Future of Fintech on Display at HPC + AI Wall Street

September 17, 2020

Those who tuned in for Tuesday's HPC + AI Wall Street event got a peak at the future of fintech and lively discussion of topics like blockchain, AI for risk man Read more…

By Alex Woodie, Tiffany Trader and Todd R. Weiss

IBM’s Quantum Race to One Million Qubits

September 15, 2020

IBM today outlined its ambitious quantum computing technology roadmap at its virtual Quantum Summit. The eye-popping million qubit number is still far out, agrees IBM, but perhaps not that far out. Just as eye-popping is IBM’s nearer-term plan for a 1,000-plus qubit system named Condor... Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

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

Intel’s 7nm Slip Raises Questions About Ponte Vecchio GPU, Aurora Supercomputer

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says it will create an approximate six-month shift for its CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary issue is a defect mode in the 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Powers Fugaku’s Storage, Scores IO500 Win

August 28, 2020

In June, RIKEN shook the supercomputing world with its Arm-based, Fujitsu-built juggernaut: Fugaku. The system, which weighs in at 415.5 Linpack petaflops, topp Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DOD Orders Two AI-Focused Supercomputers from Liqid

August 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is making a big investment in data analytics and AI computing with the procurement of two HPC systems that will provide the High Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan’s Fugaku Tops Global Supercomputing Rankings

June 22, 2020

A new Top500 champ was unveiled today. Supercomputer Fugaku, the pride of Japan and the namesake of Mount Fuji, vaulted to the top of the 55th edition of the To Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and in Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel Speeds NAMD by 1.8x: Saves Xeon Processor Users Millions of Compute Hours

August 12, 2020

Potentially saving datacenters millions of CPU node hours, Intel and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) have collaborated to develop AVX-512 optimizations for the NAMD scalable molecular dynamics code. These optimizations will be incorporated into release 2.15 with patches available for earlier versions. Read more…

By Rob Farber

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