The latest TOP500 rankings of the world's fastest supercomputers is out today, and as expected Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan has unseated Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Sequoia in for the number one seat. That means a couple of things. For one, it represents something of a proving out for co-processor technology (that's technology that uses graphics processors alongside conventional processors to accelerate a machine's performance), which drove Titan's performance over the top. Secondly, it means it's been a really good year for American supercomputing.
Titan is the successor to ORNL's Jaguar supercomputer (actually, it's really an upgrade of Jaguar), which itself sat atop the TOP500 rankings a few years ago. Since then, computers in China, Japan, and elsewhere have really given the U.S. a serious run for its money, unseating Jaguar for the number one position and pushing other systems down the rankings at times. For ORNL and the U.S. Department of Energy, it has to be nice to have two separate systems sitting in the top two spots on the TOP500.
But more significantly, today's rankings demonstrate that hybrid processing--using graphics processing units (GPUs) to augment the central processing units traditionally deployed in supercomputers--could be the real way forward for supercomputing, at least in the near term. Titan officially recorded speeds of 17.59 petaflops (that's quadrillions of calculations per second), yet the entire computing apparatus fits into the same 200 server cabinets as the 2.3-petaflop Jaguar. That's because GPUs are better at some kinds of operations that CPUs aren't necessarily so good at--especially operations that involve more parallel kinds of computing. By coupling NVIDIA Tesla GPUs with 16-core AMD CPUs, the engineers at Cray that built Titan for ORNL were able to increase computing performance by a factor several times greater than its increase in energy consumption (or size).
That's very important going forward. The goal across the globe right now is to develop an exascale machine (an exaflop is equivalent to 1,000 petaflops--so we have a ways to go), and the U.S. is trying to do so on a budget. So proving that GPU augmented machines can outperform the very best supercomputers in the world could mark the beginning of a sea change in the science and engineering of supercomputing.
Right now, 62 systems on the TOP500 list are accelerated in this way, including China's Tianhe-1A, which sat atop the list back in 2010 but now ranks number eight. That's up from 58 systems six months ago, and the number is likely to continue growing. The time may soon be upon us when it's simply unfeasible to compete for the top 10 or even the top 25 systems in the world without leveraging some kind of acceleration technology, and that's probably a good thing. More efficient methods of crunching more data are what will lead us to the exascale age--a scale at which many computer scientists think things will get really interesting.
Rounding out the top five: Japan's K Computer at number three, Argonne National Laboratory's Mira (which will soon begin running the world's largest cosmological simulations), and Germany's JUQUEEN, which is now Europe's most powerful system after a recent upgrade. On top of the aforementioned three in the top five, America has two more machines in the top 10--placing half of the fastest ten computers in the world within the U.S. We'll take it.
The next rankings will be released in June of 2013.
Leaps and bounds... its amazing how far we've come in just the last 10 years. Try to imagine where it will be just 5 years from now at the pace we're moving. Sustainability and Solutions are what the world needs. Not more computers to crunch nuclear simulations or predict war game scenarios. Seriously...over 50,000 people die of starvation each and every day on this planet. We need Solutions - Not Set Backs.
Wasn't Panther the upgrade to Jaguar?
So as the end that justify the means, I think it be a really interesting article to know what projects are immediately chosen, once these speed CPU beast are made.
so all this money and power and effort put into these computers and we use them for wargame simulations ...... yet world is in major "debt" and cannot afford to fix the issue nor feed the poor. i think of this as a huge waste of awesome power at the expense of poor people around the world in which ALL of these computers could have provided endless solutions to the worlds problems time and time again .
A Mr. nosilence,
The above comment you made is your premier comment (first) since you created a login 3 years and 25 weeks ago. "NO SILIENCE, really, LOL!".
Hey since the USA went off the gold and later silver standard our government has been pulling our emotional strings in self worth and for the most part the American peoples in their faith of their government has gone along with it.
Now just to let you know, you self worth is not tied to our USA government or any other thing in this world.
Let me ask you, are you useful to yourself or others? Do you take care of yourself and others? Can you contribute to society? Are you hard working and adaptable? Are you human and breathing? YOU ARE WORTHY and all you need to do, is depend upon less on others and our government and will be fine! God bless and I wish you well.
So exactly how are they going to make good use of these Speedy Gazelles CPU Monsters?
Ladies and gentlemen, Witness a technological singularity before your very eyes. A rare epoch for any civilization to achieve such a milestone.
Sir, I have read your comments and may I give you this suggestion. Put your transmission in reverse, back to first, then back to reverse and back to first. Try to get a good rocking motion going on and perhaps you will get out of that 'rut' of repeating the same comment, lol.
@Hemp Solutions and @nosilence,
What wo you think the DoE, genenerally; ORNL, specifically does with their super computers? Energy modeling. These computers are used for finding sustainable energy solutions. I think it should be a point of pride that our nation's biggest computers are being used for this kind of persuit, not chugging away analizing our citizen's private conversiations.
Got some dust on the ol' servos? You seem cranky...Hope you feel better!
This cold weather does seep into my gears a bit. Yes it's not good to be cranky, lol.