Barcelona Supercomputing Center | Paving paths For Green Supercomputing

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Barcelona Supercomputing Center | Paving paths For Green Supercomputing
When it comes to high speed computing, super computers are always there to serve. Every new day comes up with improvements in design and speed. Now the Barcelona Supercomputer Center is developing a system with that will be providing us with the highest performance possible remaining in the green limits. Ramirez, a manager with the center, is currently involved in building an innovative supercomputer, called as MONT BLANC that will run from very low-powered chips as being used in tablets and smartphones these days.

This plan will start implementing next month with the assembling of first model of Mont-Blanc that will be bases on NVIDIA’s Tegra3 processors. They have eliminated the use of RISC based or Intel x86- based processors that are hitherto an essential part of almost every supercomputer available in the market. The Tegra3 will act as a communicator between diverse parts of the computer while the true information and number crunching is a task that will be performed by a multicore NVIDIA graphics processor that is consumes very low power too.

Most likely by June, Ramirez has planned to run tests for the extensively tracked TOP 500 Supercomputers, which determines how efficiently the system will achieve a benchmark program known as LINPACK. LINPACK benchmarks measures the supercomputer’s floating point computing capability or more commonly known as FLOPS (Floating-Point Operations per Second). Ramirez also says that he wants to get on the Green500 list which ranks the supercomputers by the order of power efficiency not just performance. He expects that Mont Blanc will get through this all and he foresees it to be in Top10.

Last year in November, an archetype of IBM’s Blue Gene Supercomputer could perform 2 GIGAFLOPS/WATT that is 2 quadrillion calculations per second. On the other hand, this year, when Mont Blanc will perform it is expected to be doing a 7 GIGAFLOPS/WATT. That is tremendous! Isn’t it? The main aspect of this Supercomputer is that it is setting a trend of using low-power consuming devices to do such high power computations.

When we talk about the mobility devices, battery life is so important so it is a must consideration that devices must be powers with lesser and lesser Watts. So in this respect Tegra3 maintains its focus on consuming as little power as possible. The Tegra3 chipset that is used in the Mont Blanc supercomputer will be running in about 4Watt power range. As a comparison to Intel Xeon chip, I must say that it’s nothing at all because an Intel Xeon chipset easily consumes about 100 Watts. All that improvement that we see in this master piece is due to the proper involvement of Tegra3 and Graphic processor that have pretty low rated wattages. In collaboration with NVIDIA, the Barcelona Supercomputer Center has managed to write software for their chipsets taking assistance from the SDK (Software Development Kit) that is released by NVIDIA.

Barcelona Supercomputing Center | Paving paths For Green Supercomputing
The manager expects the machine to be in Top500 that uses roughly 2k to 4k processors. The trick here is to make use of a large number of small and low power consuming processor rather than using a small number of bulky processor that draws hundreds of Watts. Now an interesting development is that NVIDIA has started shipping the successors to the Tegra3, one of which also involves a new 64-bit chipset built on CoretxA15 design layout taken from ARM. It is able to share quite an amount of workload being performed by Mont Blanc Supercomputer’s Graphic processor and can upsurge the processing speed by four-times, working on that same wattage of roughly 4 Watts.

Now the ball is in Barcelona Supercomputer Center’s Goal that whether they take advantage of these next-generation chipsets or rely on their current architecture. Actually deploying new architecture and tuning their system according to it will require rewriting all the software. For the competition of Top500, they have to perform well on LINPACK benchmark but they also need to rewrite the research programs used by the Scientists at their laboratories and universities that contain simulating the situations involving chemicals, physical systems and other statistical data that requires high speed computations. Ramirez thinks that this system is being designed keeping in mind the fact that it could be deployed five or ten years from now. That system would be roughly working in a 200PetaFlops range i.e. that is about 20 times more powerful as today’s most powerful computer, the Japan’s K Computer.

Amidst all the anticipation about Mont-Blanc in the supercomputing world, ARM is confident as far as the development of the project is concerned. It doesn’t see it as a obstacle in their way as they are expecting big money from Smartphones and Tablets that public generally buy, not these huge supercomputer that are desirable only  in high tech research laboratories.

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