Cray unveils hybrid supercomputer

Cray has launched its next-generation XT5 supercomputer family, pushing forward the company's vision of adaptive computing with an integrated hybrid system.

The Cray XT5 massively parallel processor system includes a new compute blade that quadruples local memory capacity, doubles processor density and improves energy efficiency, company officials said.

The Cray XT5 family also includes an integrated hybrid supercomputer, the Cray XT5h system, which lets users tackle high-performance computing problems that cannot be solved on a single architecture system, said Jan Silverman, senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development at Cray.

Building on the Cray XT5 foundation, the XT5h integrates multiple processor architectures with a complete software development environment into a single system supporting diverse workflows. The Cray XT5h system couples scalar processing capability with high memory-bandwidth vector processing and reconfigurable co-processing using field programmable gate array technology, Silverman said.

'Each processing technology offers its own unique characteristics and opportunities,' allowing users to mix and match processing functions according to their needs, he said.

As a result, the CrayXT5h fits in with Cray's adaptive computing vision, which brings in tighter integration between hardware and software so a supercomputer system will actually start to understand how best to run and adapt applications. This frees users from having to code their applications differently depending on which type of supercomputer they're using.

The Cray XT5 system is a scalable Linux-based supercomputer. In addition to supporting the current Cray XT4 compute blades, a new eight-socket Cray XT5 compute blade supports the dual-core and new Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors.

To help users reduce energy usage and control operating costs, the Cray XT5 family uses innovative packaging and technologies that reduce power and cooling requirements. For example, vertical cooling takes cold air from the floor with a single, high-efficiency turbine fan and efficiently cools the processors on the Cray XT5 blades, company officials said.

The Cray XT5 and XT5h will be available next year. The starting price for an XT5 cabinet is around $500,000, depending on memory. Users most likely will buy multiple cabinets, Silverman said.

The Energy Department's Leadership Computing Facility at the National Center for Computational Sciences uses Cray XT systems to tackle increasingly complex simulations. Cray is also working with another vendor to build a prototype of an adaptive supercomputer called Cascade for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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