You've probably never heard of Total, but what they're digging around the world to find you most likely use - oil and gas. Total are one of the world's major oil and gas groups, and on March 25 they will announce they're working with SGI for their new supercomputer.
SGI will be helping Total out with their SGI ICE X HPC system as the platform for its Total's new supercomputer named "Pangea." The companies will work together on Pangea, hoping to allow for more efficient upstream oil and gas exploration, as well as the discovery of reserves under challenging geological conditions. The new supercomputer will help scientists develop more complete visualizations of seismic landscapes over time, which will provide them with a better idea of what is happening beneath the Earth's surface.
Pangea is quite capable, delivering performance of up to 2.3 PFLOPS - considering the world's fastest supercomputers are only 10x faster than that - it still makes Pangea mighty fast. Pangea's unique computing architecture is based over 110,000 calculation cores, 7PB of storage, and an innovative cooling system that is intertwined with the processors. Power requirements sit at 2.8mW.
NVIDIA begins shipping GRID VCA, costs just $24,900 - features 8 GPUs, 16 threads of CPU and 192GB of RAM
NVIDIA have begun shipping their GRID Visual Computing Appliance (VCA), where designers, animators and visual production users can purchase for just $24,900. On top of this, there is a $2,400 yearly software license fee.
What do you get for $25,000? 8 GPUs, 16 threads of CPU and 192GB of RAM capable of delivering service up to 8 users, with the 16 GPU model doubling this to 16 simultaneous users. If a studio had a decent amount of designers or artists, this could definitely be an option worth looking into.
Apple did have the datacenter-designed Xserve for quite a while, but when they went into retirement Apple fans were left with no alternative. But there is someone who has thought of a way around this.
Over at Steve's Blog, who is anonymous, he has thought up of a solution to Apple's Xserve who has disappeared from the market. "Steve" has worked with vendors to developed a custom 1U shelving, cooling from car radiators and four-in-one power cables that cram 160 Mac mini's as well as a managing Xserve into a single enclosure.
This is quite the feat considering 160 machines would all obviously run hot, and we all know heat rises. Each machine sports a quad-core Core i7 processor and an SSD and this cluster features double the cores at 640 cores, when compared to the competing Xserve cluster. There's power consumption savings and a 45-second, network-controlled reboot with the cluster.
The UK's University of Cambridge is looking to host a new center where they'll see experts look into the possible dangers associated with advanced artificial intelligence (AI). Founded by philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology professor Martin Rees, and Skype co-founder Jann Tallinn.
The University says that its Center for the Study of Existential Risk is set to open on campus sometime next year, and while acknowledging the far-fetched nature of movie-based AI like HAL 9000's rebellion, Price has told the AP that "it seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology". Adding:
It tends to be regarded as a flakey concern, but given that we don't know how serious the risks are, that we don't know the time scale, dismissing the concerns is dangerous. What we're trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community.
Microsoft is looking to capture the energy in the gas produced by sewage and harness that otherwise wasted energy for data centers. Microsoft has just gotten approval to test out a new modular data center that will be powered by a biogas fuel cell. The fuel cell will be situated at a sewage plant in Wyoming.
"A person is consuming data and that person's waste is going to power the data center," Microsoft data center researcher Sean Parker told Technology Review. "It's been a mind shift...when we smell that methane at a water treatment plant, we realize we're smelling energy."
Supposedly this isn't just some project designed to make Microsoft appear "green" to the public. They actually seem genuinely interested in being able to co-locate smaller data centers around sources of biogas. This means datacenters could find their way to your local sewage system, farm, or landfill.
The only issue I foresee with locating data centers at farms and possibly other out of the way locations is that getting a fast internet connection to them could be tough. They will definitely need a fiber line, which could delay or increase costs for this new idea. If it proves successful, though, it will deal with all the excess methane being produced and might help fight global warming.
There's a new supercomputer on the block, Titan, and boy is it damn powerful. The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National labs flicked the 'on' switch on Titan, powering up the latest, fastest supercomputer.
Titan sports 299,008 CPU cores, 18,688 GPUs, and over 700 terabytes of memory - wow. Titan is capable of a peak speed of 27 quadrillion calculations per second (petaflops), which is ten times the power of its predecessor, and has now slotted into the spot of the world's fastest supercomputer.
Titan is based on the Cray XK7 system, sporting 18,688 computing nodes, each sporting an AMD Opteron 6274 processor, and NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU accelerator. NVIDIA's GPUs do most of the computing calculations for simulations, with the Opteron cores managing the GPUs.
Titan takes up 4,352 square feet of floorspace in ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences. Someone has to say it, and I'll be the first - can it run Crysis? I know people are going to cringe at the thought of the old "can it run Crysis", but I still get a laugh out of it.
Researchers at the University of Southampton have done something that only us mere mortals could only dream of, build a supercomputer from Raspberry Pi's and Lego.
They've called this Iridis-Pi, which is a very small 64-node cluster made from Raspberry Pi's Debian Wheezy distribution, linked through Ethernet. On their lonesome, Raspberry Pi's are not that powerful, but in a cluster with 1TB worth of storage in SD cards, that's another question.
Rackmounting the cluster was done in a very interesting way, where team lead Simon Cox and his son James put the entire array into two towers of Lego. LEGO!!! There are even instructions so you could do this at home if you've got the money for some Raspberry Pi's and some spare Lego around. The entire system cost less than $4,026 or so to make, which is not too bad at all.
IBM has bragging rights at the moment, with the world's fastest server chip clocking in at an incredible 5.5GHz. IBM's new zEnterprise EC12 mainframe cost the company $1 billion in development, and offers 25% more performance courtesy of their hexacore processors.
IBM's zEnterprise EC12 mainframes are available in multiple configurations, with as many as 120 cores available. All models will include transactional execution support, as well as Enhanced-DAT2, allowing 2GB page frames for more efficient utilization of huge quantities of RAM.
Another jewel of the newly-introduced zEnterprise EC12 mainframe is IBM's cryptographic co-processor, Crypto Express4S. It's quite special as its tamper-proof, providing privacy when handling transactions, and other similarly sensitive data. Crypto Express4S also offers multiple security configurations to support the requirements, and needs of bankers and other organizations handling sensitive data. This includes the information on smart passports and ID cards.
The U.S. Department of Energy have granted a two-year, $12.4 million contract for the research and development of exascale computer technology to NVIDIA. Scientists from DoE, and engineers from NVIDIA will work together in order to advance the field and produce an exascale computer that operates at a "reasonable" power level.
The focus of the joint effort will be on developing processor architecture, circuits, memory architecture, high-speed signalling, and programming models. The work done will involve thousands of throughput-optimized cores that will handle most of the heavy lifting, while some latency-optimized cores will do the residual serial computing. Seven DoE laboratories will guide NVIDIA as to what kind of scientific workloads the exascale computer will need to handle.
It was only last week that AMD were granted $12.6 million from the FastForward program for the same exascale research. The future is looking quite green indeed.
AMD has been granted a $12.6 million grant under the FastForward program, where they'll use the funds to research next-generation supercomputing technology. FastForward is part of a joint effort between the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy designed to advance research of exascale computers.
Exascale computers are going to open a can of whoop ass against the current supercomputers like Blue Waters, currently installed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that max out at around a thousand trillion operations per second, otherwise known as a petaflop. Exascale is set to process data up to a thousand times faster than current-generation petascale supercomputers. We're talking about some serious power here.
AMD will split the $12.6 million into $9.6 million to fund processor research and will use the remaining $3 million for memory advancements. This can only be good news, as AMD have been struggling for quite a while now. AMD have also previously worked with the U.S. government on supercomputer projects, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer being AMD-powered. Upgrades for that system known as Titan, are already under way. AMD have provided nearly 20,000 Opteron processors, worth close to $300,000.