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Cray announces XK6 supercomputer

Capable of 50 petaflops thanks to AMD CPUs and Nvidia GPUs
Wed May 25 2011, 11:18

SUPERCOMPUTER COMPANY Cray has announced the latest addition to its high performance computing range, the Cray XK6, which uses AMD processors and Nvidia graphics cards.

The supercomputer has Cray's Gemini interconnect, along with AMD Opteron 6200 "Interlagos" processors and Nvidia's Tesla 20 series GPUs. The Opteron 6200 chips have 16 cores and there will be up to 96 of them per cabinet. There will also be up to 96 graphics cards per cabinet.

This will give the XK6 a potential compute power of over 50 petaflops, that is 50 quadrillion operations per second, making it the fastest supercomputer in the world. This is vastly superior to the previous record holder, China's Tianhe-1A, which is capable of 2.5 petaflops at peak performance.

These speeds will be available at the top end implementation of Cray's design, with up to 500,000 scalar processors at work. Customers will be able to buy smaller rigs of one or more cabinets that are not capable of quite the same speeds, but they will still be very impressive.

The supercomputer will be a hybrid model with intra-node flexibility, capable of running scalar or accelerator component applications, thanks to the AMD and Nvidia hardware. They can also be teamed up with older Cray XE6 models to create a powerful system and can be scaled to meet the needs of each particular customer organisation.

The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, based in Manno, Switzerland, will be the first to use one of the new Cray supercomputers, upgrading its old Cray XE6m system to a multi-cabinet XK6. The Swiss centre specialises in scientific research for meteorology, climatology, chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, genetics, mathematics and a slew of other areas.

The centre said it won't be aiming for the Top 500 supercomputer list with a GPU stunt, so it's likely that the machine it sets up won't be capable of the full potential speed of the XK6 at its highest capacity.

Older Cray models, such as the XT4, XT5, XT6 and XE6 can be upgraded to the new model. The XK6 is expected to be available in the second half of 2011. µ


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