World's Fastest Supercomputer is Truly a 'Titan'

Paul Lilly

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory today announced the completion of Titan , a supercomputer capable of processing more than 20,000 trillion calculations per second. That's equivalent to 20 petaflops, which is 10 times more powerful than Jaguar, ORNL's previous flagship supercomputer. All that power will be put to use to research energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials, and to play Crysis. Wait, what?

We made that last part up, but even though Titan won't be used for gaming, Nvidia's DNA is all over this thing. Titan is a Cray XK7 system containing 18,688 nodes, each of which holds an Nvidia Tesla K20 GPU and a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor. It also boasts 700 terabytes of memory. Despite being so much more powerful than Jaguar, Titan takes up the same amount of floor space while using marginally more electricity.

"One challenge in supercomputers today is power consumption," said Jeff Nichols , associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences. "Combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system requires less power than CPUs alone and is a responsible move toward lowering our carbon footprint. Titan will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, materials and other disciplines to enable scientific leadership."

Titan will rely on its GPUs to do the "heavy lifting," while the 299,008 CPU cores crunch through simulation data. According to ORNL, this strategy will enable researchers to run scientific calculations with greater speed and accuracy than before. To put it into perspective, ORNL says Titan can simulate from one to five years per day of computing time, compared to three months or so that Jaguar was able to process.

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