Sandia supercomputer to be world’s fastest, yet smaller and less expensive than any competitor: This description of the new “Red Storm” computer being developed at Sandia is like porn for hardware geeks. Supposedly, this machine is going to take the title of World’s Fastest Computer back from the NEC Earth Simulator.
The machine has 96 processors in each computer cabinet, with four processors to a board. Each processor can have up to eight gigabytes of memory sitting next to it. Four Cray SeaStars — powerful networking chips — sit on a daughter board atop each processor board. All SeaStars talk to each other “like a Rubik cube with lots of squares on each face,” says Camp. “Cray SeaStars are about a factor of five faster than any current competing capability.”
Messages encoded in MPI (the Message Passage Interface standard) move from processor to processor at a sustained speed of 4.5 gigabytes per second bidirectionally. The amount of time to get the first information bit from one processor to another is less than 5 microseconds across the system. The machine is arranged in four rows of cabinets. There are a total of 11,648 Opteron processors and a similar number of SeaStars.
USAToday has an article today about how the machine is based on an 80-year-old mathematical theory.
Ideas from an early 20th century British scientist are at the heart of a massive supercomputer expected to be the fastest in the world once it’s assembled at Sandia National Laboratories.
Mathematician Lewis F. Richardson wanted a way to forecast the weather. But the basic concepts he envisioned — a way for many calculations to be shared quickly and integrated — lie at the heart of Sandia’s machine, Red Storm, which will be used in nuclear weapons work.