Cray Shows Off New AMD-Powered XE6 Supercomputer

At its annual users conference, supercomputer vendor Cray unveiled the XE6 supercomputer, formerly codenamed Baker, which will start shipping in the third quarter. The XE6 features AMD's Opteron 6100 "Magny-Cours" processors and a new interconnect, Gemini, that will offer tremendous improvement in messaging rates and a three-fold reduction in latency. Cray already has more than $200 million in contracts for the XE6, which can scale to more than 1 million cores.

Supercomputer vendor Cray is unveiling its latest high-end system powered by Advanced Micro Devices' latest Opteron processors and featuring Cray's newest interconnect technology, dubbed "Gemini."

The result is the XE6 supercomputer, which Cray officials said can scale to more than 1 million cores and can expand the reach of petascale computing to a wider range of HPC (high-performance computing) applications.

Cray officials introduced the XE6-formerly codenamed "Baker"-May 25 at the 2010 Cray User Group meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The new supercomputer will start shipping early in the third quarter, but already Cray has more than $200 million in contracts for the system from such facilities as the Korea Meteorological Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

Cray also will provide three XE6 systems to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center and the U.S Army Engineer Research and Development Center as part of the Department of Defense's HPC modernization program. Other customers include the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) through a partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The system is powered by AMD's Opteron 6100 chips, which offer from eight to 12 cores each. AMD released the chip family-formerly named "Magny-Cours"-in March. Cray's current XT6 supercomputer also runs on the Opteron 6100 processors.

According to Barry Bolding, Cray's vice president of scalable systems, the combination of the AMD chips with the new Gemini interconnect technology bring vast improvements to the XE6 over previous models.

The Gemini interconnect-which replaces the current SeaStar technology-offers greater performance in multicore environments, including a 100-fold improvement in messaging rates and a three-fold reduction in latency over current systems. It also offers hardware support for a global user address space.

"With the new Gemini interconnect, we are putting the final piece of the puzzle in place," Bolding said in a statement. "With the Gemini interconnect we will provide the scalable network to meet the demands of a petascale environment. The Cray XE6 system is the production supercomputer designed for the multicore era."

Also included in the XE6 is the third generation of the Cray Linux Environment operating system, which was announced in April.

Cray showed off the XE6 a week before the 2010 International Supercomputing show in Hamburg, Germany.