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Biggest Linux-run computer debuts

Posted: 08 Nov 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:supercomputer? Linux? open source?

Supercomputer designer Cray Inc. has announced a system it says will be the biggest computer to use the Linux open-source OS. Cray claims its new XT5 system advances the limits of how many x86 and hybrid processor types it packs into a single system.

The number of cores in supercomputers has skyrocketed from about 1,000 in the late 1990's to nearly 21,000 in high-end configurations possible this year, Cray said. For its part the Cray XT5 now packs as many as eight Advanced Micro Devices Inc. quad-core processors on a single board. A basic configuration uses 1,112 CPUs in six racks to deliver 43TFlops of peak performance.

"As far as I know this is the highest density of Opterons you can buy in a system," said Jan Silverman, senior vice president of corporate strategy.

Cray will pack vector processors and reconfigurable FPGA boards along with the x86 chips in a separate system, the XT5h. The system is the company's first to use Linux across its vector processors rather than a custom lightweight kernel. A handful of Linux software developers including Exa Corp., Livermore Software Technology Corp. and Software Cradle have pledged they will support the new systems.

"The stalling out of standard microprocessor speeds is starting to spark a rebirth of computers that augment microprocessors with other processor types including vector processors, GPUs, accelerators and FPGAs," said Earl Joseph, a senior analyst at International Data Corp.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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