ARM’s built its business around power-efficient chips that are perfect for mobile applications (like tablets and smartphones), but that pedigree could transfer over to another technical arena as well, one that has traditionally been dominated by Intel and AMD: high-powered computing. In fact, Sumit Gupta, who serves as the senior manager of Nvidia’s Tesla GPU Computing HPC business, says that ARM chips are “inherently much more energy efficient than an x86 CPU” – and that fact makes Nvidia feel that the future of supercomputing lies in ARM.
Nvidia's Tegra ARM CPUs are hitching a ride to Spain where the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) is a developing a new hybrid supercomputer that, for the first time, will combine quad-core Tegra CPUs with high performance Nvidia CUDA GPUs, Nvidia announced. It will be the first large scale system based on this technology, and BSC expects to demonstrate two to five times improvement in energy efficiency compared with today's most efficient systems.
How do you make the most powerful supercomputer in the world even faster? It’s simple, really. Just keep adding components! When Japan’s K supercomputer assumed the top slot back in June, it did so thanks to a team of 68,544 CPUs working in tandem to achieve a maximum LINPACK performance rating of 8.162 petaflops. Since then, the last of its 864 racks have been installed – and that extra firepower has boosted K’s performance over the 10 petaflop barrier.
John Carmack may not want anything to do with Nvidia after the whole Rage debacle, but the driver issues that caused the programmer to call the game’s PC launch “a clusterf*ck” don’t bother governments nearly as much. Last year, China stuffed a bunch of Nvidia’s GPU’s into its Tianhe-1A supercomputer to make it the second fastest supercomputer in the world. That bumped the Cray-built Jaguar rig out at Oak Ridge National Laboratory down to the third slot. Now, the US Department of Energy’s looking to return the favor by – you guessed it – shoving a bunch of Nvidia GPUs into Jaguar to boost its performance and create a “Titan.”
The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin is building a world-class supercomputer called "Stampede." It's scheduled to power on in 2013 and will solicit 20 percent of its performance from Intel's Xeon E5 series processors, and the other 80 percent from Intel's "Knights Corner" co-processors based on Intel's Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture.
Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, two of Jeopardy's greatest winners of all-time, might consider unplugging their TV sets from September 12-14, 2011, the three days in which Jeopardy will broadcast an encore presentation of its first-ever man vs. machine competition featuring IBM's Watson supercomputer. If you happened to miss it the first time around -- or want to study Watson for signs of weakness just in case machines decide to rise against their makers -- clear your schedule or set your DVR.
Quick, someone assemble an eight-man band like the one that played during the Titanic's final moments above water. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications' Blue Waters project is sinking fast now that IBM has abandoned ship, leaving NCSA on its own to build a sustained petascale supercomputer. IBM and NCSA didn't have any kind of falling out, it just turned out to be more expensive than either side anticipated.
No matter what side of the Google-China shouting match you fall on, you can't help but admire the country's drive towards bigger and badder processing power. China's Tianhe-1A, capable of 2.57 petaflops per second, held the crown as the most powerful supercomputer in the world until Japan's "K Computer" blew away the competition with 8.16 petaflops last month. China's newest supercomputer is the Tianhe-1A's baby brother, creatively named the Tianhe-1.
We're not sure if what we're about to confess will solidify our status as geeks at heart or if it will have our fellow bipeds accusing us of treachery, but here goes. We rooted for Watson. That's right, we cheered when Watson answered Jeopardy questions correctly and wiped the sweat from our brow when, after starting strong, Watson appeared, well, human by giving quirky answers. As enthusiasts of technology, we wanted Watson to win, and it did, quite handily as it turned out. So what's next on Watson's agenda? Wheel of Fortune, perhaps?
We suspect that with a little bit of tweaking, Japan's "K Computer" wouldn't break a sweat running Crysis, but where this supercomputer really struts its stuff is in the LINKPACK benchmark. Equipped with 68,544 processors, Fujitsu's half-build system cranked out 8.162 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point operations per second) in LINKPACK, short of the company's goal of 10 petaflops by 2012 but still enough to take first place on the 37th Top 500 list.