New Titan Supercomputer About To Be Born

  • October 14, 2011
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New Titan Supercomputer About To Be Born

A new supercomputer is about to be created, one that will be called Titan and will become the fastest HPC (High Performance Computer) in the world. The new giant device is the work of a group made of Cray, Nvidia, AMD, and the Department of Energy (DoE). The project is being worked on at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee. The facility already has a very powerful supercomputer, the Jaguar, and Titan is supposed to replace it with brand new hardware, and much more power.

To give you an idea, Jaguar is currently composed of 200 chassis of Cray XT5 blade computers. That gives it a total of 4,800 servers, and 38,400 processors, or CPUs. Considering most home computers have between 1 and 4 CPUs, that’s quite a lot. As it stands now, Jaguar is capable of 1.75 petaflops, or 1,750,000,000,000,000 operations per second. This currently places it near the top, but not quite at the high end of the supercomputers in the world.

In contrast, we aren’t sure right now what the exact specs of Titan will be, but the people behind the project say it will be capable of up to 24 petaflops. This means it will likely use even more chassis and more servers, containing more CPUs. We know the processors used to do the computations are going to be the Opteron 6200 chips from AMD. These processors have 16 cores each and drive each Cray XT6 blade server. Each system also has 4 Nvidia Tesla GCGPU processors.

If everything goes as planned, the new Titan supercomputer should easily surpass the current top of the line, a supercomputer named K in Japan. That one is able to do 8 petaflops and uses SPARC64 VIIIfx processors. Built by a research institute over there, it took the leading position in the world of giant computers a few years back. While these things cost a fortune, there is a real sense of competition among the various players.

But now, at the cost of $97 million, the US will take the lead once more with Titan. The blade servers are supposedly being installed now, and the first phase will be completed by the end of 2011. A second phase will happen later, when more Nvidia chips will be added. There’s no word yet as to what the computer will be used for exactly, but we do know it will be an open platform available to research institutes and universities across the country. In fact, currently anyone can request access to Jaguar to do scientific studies, and it’s thought that the same will be true with Titan.

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