Intel, Cray Awarded $200 Million to Build Powerful Supercomputer

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2015-04-10 Print this article Print
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The DOE's selection of Intel as the lead contractor is a validation of the work the chip maker has done in the HPC space, according to Raj Hazra, vice president of Intel's Data Center Group and general manager of its Technical Computing Group.

"Intel's HPC scalable system framework enables balanced, scalable and efficient systems while extending the ecosystem's decades of software investment to future generations," Hazra said in a statement.

Intel has made strides over the past several years to build its HPC capabilities, including buying Cray's Aries interconnect technology and QLogic's TrueScale InfiniBand networking technology, both in 2012. Aries will be the interconnect technology for Theta, while Intel's upcoming high-speed Omni-Path interconnect technology will be used in Aurora.

Omni-Path, which will be available as an integrated offering in Knights Landing, is designed to offer 100G-bps line speed up to 56 percent lower switch fabric latency than is found in compute clusters running InfiniBand and better scaling than InfiniBand, according to Intel officials.

Intel launched Xeon Phi in 2012 as x86-based coprocessors to be used in a similar fashion as GPU accelerators from Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices. They run alongside CPUs, which offload workloads onto the accelerators, which improve the performance of the systems but help keep power consumption in check. However, Knights Landing—which is due out in the second half of the year—is designed primarily to be used as a stand-alone server processor, though it also can still be used as a coprocessor.

Company officials have given some details about Knights Landing—it will have more than 60 cores, up to 384GB of native DDR4 memory and up to 36 PCIe 3.0 lanes for faster I/O capabilities—and have said more will be released as the launch date approaches.

In addition to the CORAL program, the government also is pushing toward exascale computing through other initiatives, such as the DesignForward HPC R&D program. Through the initiative, the Office of Science and National Nuclear Security Administration already has awarded $25.4 million to the likes of Cray, IBM and AMD.



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