First Intel Xeon Phi-based supercomputer to launch 7 January
The Texas Advanced Computing Center shows off its Stampede supercomputer, due to launch in 2013
By Sophie Curtis | Techworld | Published: 17:21, 17 December 2012
On 7 January 2013, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas in Austin will deploy the Stampede supercomputer, which is the first large-scale deployment of Intel's Many Integrated Core (MIC) technology in the world.
Stampede is the result of a $51.5 million grant from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and is intended to support the nation's scientists in addressing the most challenging scientific and engineering problems over four years.
The new system, built by TACC in partnership with Dell, Intel and Mellanox, will have a peak performance of more than 2 petaflops from the base cluster of Intel Xeon processors and more than 7 petaflops from the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors (based on the MIC architecture).
Altogether, Stampede will have a peak performance of 10 petaflops, 272 terabytes of memory, and 14 petabytes of disk storage. It will therefore be the most powerful system in the NSF's eXtreme Digital programme and the seventh most powerful supercomputer in the world.
At the Dell World conference in Austin last week, Techworld was given a tour of Stampede as it was prepared for deployment at TACC. First impressions are, it's very big, very loud, very windy, and you can almost feel the power when you walk into the room.
When completed, Stampede will comprise 6,400 Dell PowerEdge C8220X “Zeus” servers, with each server having dual 8-core processors from the Intel Xeon processor E5 family and at least one Intel Xeon Phi processor (in some cases two).
Additionally, Stampede will offer 128 next-generation NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) for remote visualisation, 16 Dell servers with 1 terabyte of shared memory and 2 GPUs each for large data analysis, and a high-performance Lustre file system for data-intensive computing.
“Computers have become the most important general purpose instrument of science. The computational techniques complement theory and observation in every field of science and the percentage of research that's using computing continues to grow,” said TACC Director Jay Boisseau.
“In fact, the percentage of research that uses supercomputing as a competitive advantage as well as a scientific capability continues to grow.”
He added that, as long as the universe is governed by fundamental equations, the IT industry will be helping scientists predict what will happen in various scenarios and various physical processes through modelling and simulation.
To find out more about Stampede, check out the slideshow below:
Weighing up reliability vs capability
The demand for these high-performance systems is much higher than TACC can accommodate, so it has to pare down the requests to the number of cycles it has available. Assuming 24/7 operation, and 4 percent downtime, the level of utilisation is around 90 percent. With regard to the 4 percent downtime, Boisseau said that if you spend all your financial resources ensuring greater reliability you shrink your compute capability, so TACC is willing to sacrifice a few percent of uptime in return for a much greater scientific capability.