Saturday, April 17, 2021

Cray Launches 100-Petaflop XC30 Supercomputer

Just last week, Cray’s 20-petaflop Titan supercomputer for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory was being hailed as the world’s fastest. Now Cray has topped its own record by announcing the 100-petaflop XC30.

Engadget’s Steve Dent reported, “Cray has just fired a nuclear salvo in the supercomputer wars with the launch of its XC30, a 100 petaflop-capable brute that can scale up to one million cores. Developed in conjunction with DARPA, the Cascade-codenamed system uses a new type of architecture called Aries interconnect and Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors to easily leapfrog its recent Titan sibling, the previous speed champ. That puts Cray well ahead of rivals like China’s Tianhe-2, and the company will aim to keep that edge by supercharging future versions with Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs. High-end research centers have placed $100 million worth of orders so far.”

The Register’s Timothy Prickett Morgan posted an in-depth analysis of the system and its history, noting, “The Aries interconnect is so important to hyperscale and parallel computing that Intel shelled out $140m back in April to get control of the people who created the Aries and predecessor ‘Gemini’ interconnects, the chip designs themselves, and the 34 patents associated with them.”

The Inquirer’s Lawrence Latif observed, “Cray has been a staunch supporter of AMD, with its Opteron processors powering its previous generation XE6 clusters, however the firm opted to install Intel’s Sandy Bridge Xeons in its next generation Cascade XC30 cluster. The firm told The INQUIRER the decision to go with Intel’s Xeon chips was due to improved performance and flexibility.”

According to InfoWorld’s Joab Jackson, “The XC30 starts at $500,000. Next year, Cray will also offer a smaller XC model for business use, [Cray’s Barry] Bolding said.”

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