I had the pleasure to be little bit involved in the creation of the fastest supercomputer in Asia, and the second fastest supercomputer in the world – the Dawning “Nebulae” Petaflop Supercomputer at SIAT. If we look on the peak flops capacity of the system – nearly 3 Petaflops, it is the largest supercomputer in the world. I visited the supercomputer site in April and saw how fast it was assembled. It took around 3 weeks to get it up and running – amazing, well, this is one of the benefits of using cluster architecture instead of the expensive proprietary systems. The first picture by the way was taken during the system setup in Shenzhen.
The system includes 5200 Dawning TC3600 Blades, each with NVIDIA Fermi GPU to provide 120K cores, all connected with Mellanox ConnectX InfiniBand QDR adapters, IS5000 switches and the fabric management. It is the 3rd system in the world to provide more than sustained Petaflop performance (after Roadrunner and Jaguar). Unlike Jaguar (from Cray) that requires 20K nodes to reach the required performance, Nebulae does it with only 5.2K nodes – reducing the needed real-estate etc, making is much more cost effective. It is yet another prove that commodity-based supercomputers can deliver better performance, cost/performance and other x/performance metrics compared to the proprietary systems. As GPUs gain higher popularity, we also witness the effort that is being done to create and port the needed applications to GPU-based environments, which will bring a new era of GPU computing. It is clear that GPUs will drive the next phase of supercomputers, and of course the new speeds and feeds of the interconnect solutions (such as the IBTA’s new specifications for the FDR/EDR InfiniBand speeds).
The second picture was taken at the ISC’10 conference, after the Top500 award ceremony. You can see the Top500 certificates…