Official: Titan is Tops

November 12, 2012

This morning, the semi-annual Top500 list of the world’s fastest super-computers was released.  As expected, the newly-operational Titan system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory [ORNL] took the top spot, beating out the Sequoia system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Titan achieved performance of 17.59 petaFLOPS (1.759 × 1016 floating point operations per second) on the LINPACK benchmark.  This measured speed is less than the potential maximum speed of the system, which is rated at 27 petaFLOPS.

It’s a bit puzzling that the Top500 announcement lists the Titan system as having 560,640 processor cores, a number considerably different from the 299,008 cited in the original press release from ORNL.  The Titan system also uses NVIDIA Tesla K20 graphics processors to boost floating-point performance.  It occupies 4,352 square feet of floor space, and draws 8.2 megawatts of electricity.  (Don’t look for a battery-powered mobile version anytime soon.)

As has been true for quite some time, the operating system usage on these machines is rather different from that in the desktop market.

OS Family Percent of Systems
Linux 93.8
Unix 4.0
Mixed 1.4
Windows 0.6
BSD Unix 0.2

One thing that is striking about these figures is that Linux has almost entirely replaced Unix in this market; in November 2000, 85.4 percent of the Top500 systems ran Unix, while 10.8 percent ran Linux.  Also, obviously, this is one OS market segment where Microsoft has almost no presence.

You can see the complete list here.

Oak Ridge Powers Up Titan

October 29, 2012

The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory [ORNL] announced the start-up of a new supercomputer, called Titan, today.   The new machine, which is likely to displace the Sequoia computer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the world’s fastest supercomputer, has been in the works for two years.

Performance of these systems is ranked based on their speed in floating-point operations per second (FLOP/s), measured on the LINPACK benchmark, which involves the solution of a dense system of linear equations.  The Sequoia, ranked fastest in the world in June of this year, achieved over 16 petaflops (1.6 × 1016 flops); the new Titan system is rated at 27 petaflops (2.7 × 1016 flops).

The Titan system uses a hybrid architecture that includes both conventional 16-core Opteron 6274 CPUs, and NVIDIA Tesla K-20 GPUs.  It has a total of 18,688 compute nodes, each containing a GPU and a CPU, for a total of 299.008 CPU cores.  The system also has more than 700 terabytes ( 7 × 1014 bytes) of memory.  (Apparently 640KB is no longer enough for anyone.)  The hybrid architecture results in better energy efficiency; Titan gets about ten times the performance of its predecessor at ORNL, the Jaguar, at less than 30% more electricity consumption.  It is, however, rather large, requiring 4,352 square feet of floor space.

James Hack, Director of ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences, said “Titan will allow scientists to simulate physical systems more realistically and in far greater detail. The improvements in simulation fidelity will accelerate progress in a wide range of research areas such as alternative energy and energy efficiency, the identification and development of novel and useful materials and the opportunity for more advanced climate projections.”

The ORNL press release is here.

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