NVIDIA HAS ANNOUNCED that it has started building two supercomputers using its NVLink GPU speed interconnect technology which it says are so powerful they "could change the world".
The announcement marks the latest development since the US Department of Energy (DoE) threw some $325m at IBM and Nvidia to build the world's fastest supercomputers by 2017.
Tipped to deliver more than three times the performance of those currently available, the first of the two machines, dubbed Summit, is now being constructed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and will be used for civilian research.
The second and less powerful supercomputer, called Sierra, will power nuclear weapons simulation and is currently being built at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
The Summit supercomputer will not be completed until 2018, despite the DoE's original goal of 2017, but will offer 150 to 300 petaflops of computational performance when completed, Nvidia said.
That's at least five times more than Oak Ridge's Titan, which is currently the fastest supercomputer in the US. It's also triple that of the world's current champion, the Intel-powered Tianhe-2 with 55 petaflops.
"To make use of all this performance, this extraordinary new machine is attracting extraordinary new applications," explained Nvidia. "That's why the lab has just announced 13 projects for its Centre for Accelerated Application Readiness."
The 13 projects include everything from astrophysics and climate modelling to nuclear energy and seismology, and will be among the first applications to run on Summit, which will be powered by IBM's OpenPower chips and Nvidia's new Volta graphics chip, along with Mellanox's high-speed networking kit.
Nvidia said that the extensive boost in GPU performance in the supercomputers is thanks to a technology called NVLink that features in the Volta GPU architecture.
"NVLink is built to accelerate these powerful new applications with a new kind of high-speed interconnect technology between Summit's IBM Power CPUs and our next-generation Nvidia GPU accelerators, allowing them to exchange data five to 12 times faster than they can with current interconnect technologies," Nvidia explained.
"With the horsepower of Volta, Power and NVLink, Summit promises to be a supercomputer that can supercharge scientific discovery."
IBM Power CPUs will include a new data-centric architecture, which will embed compute power everywhere data resides in the system, allowing for a "convergence of analytics, modelling, visualisation and simulation, driving new insights at incredible speeds".
The DoE, which has thrown an extra $100m at the project for research into 'extreme scale supercomputing', aims to make supercomputers 20 to 40 times faster. µ
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