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HP Software Linux Hardware

Fastest US Supercomputer Runs Linux 314

jgercken writes "The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has brought online a 11.8 teraflops supercomputer based on the Linux operating system, comprised of ~2,000 Itanium processors, and assembled by HP. Touted to be the fastest unclassified computer in the US, its main duties will be atmospheric chemistry, systems biology, catalysis and materials science."
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Fastest US Supercomputer Runs Linux

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  • Yes... (Score:4, Funny)

    by MikeXpop ( 614167 ) <> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:02AM (#6810782) Journal
    But does it run Linux?

  • SCO (Score:5, Funny)

    by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted&fc,rit,edu> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:03AM (#6810785) Homepage
    Whoa, that's gonna cost them in SCO licenses.

    But seriously, I wonder what kind of stand governmental implementations of Linux are taking on the fiaSCO.
  • PEAK Performance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:05AM (#6810796) Journal
    If you notice this is based on PEAK Performance, aka Theoretical Max, not the best they've gotten out of it . . .
  • by tcd004 ( 134130 ) * on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:05AM (#6810797) Homepage
    They clearly aren't considering the Powerstack 5000 []

  • by Blaine Hilton ( 626259 ) * on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6810801) Homepage
    They say this is the fastest, "unclassified" supercomputer, immediately I think:
    1. Who has the classified super computers?
    2. What companies do they buy them from?
    3. If they were bought from public company how do they buy it without people knowing about it, especially after the additional scrutiny since Enron and Worldcom?

    Also after reading the whole press release I'm stuck with a few measly pictures of a bunch of HP rack servers running a processor that I won't be able to buy (let alone afford) for awhile longer. There is no mention about how much heat the thing produces, or how much energy it takes to run it. I hope the Ph.D.s running the whole thing realize that while they are trying to do stuff for the "Department of Energy" they are releasing so many thousands of pounds of junk in the land/air/water to run this giant supercomputer.

  • by DaLiNKz ( 557579 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6810803) Homepage Journal
    Can it run Quake II properly with 200 bots set to godlike abilities? ;)
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6810804)
    Makes you wonder for a second what they're doing with the [SECRET - EYES ONLY] hardware.

    My guess is that they're working on NP-hard, but useful problems, like finding ways to crack hard encryption via shortcuts that work half the time.
  • by pVoid ( 607584 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6810806)
    for the actual power grid to avoid the catastrophic meltdowns we just recently had... instead of frolicking about with the bees and flowers.

  • by Brian Dennehy ( 698379 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6810811) Homepage

    will be atmospheric chemistry, systems biology, catalysis and materials science.

    And the occasional game of Doom III... at a frame rate of 24 fps (if you're lucky).
  • Strange (Score:5, Funny)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:07AM (#6810818)
    Being the Department of Energy I though they would have used AMD chips so they could use the excess heat to drive a power plant.
    • Re:Strange (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DAldredge ( 2353 )
      The Itanium 2 draws about 124 watts.
      The Opteron draws about 85 watts.

      My math skills may not be that great, but it looks like the AMD chip uses 31% less power than the Itanium 2.
      • Re:Strange (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hattig ( 47930 )
        The 89W figure for Opteron is the maximum for the 130nm node - i.e., probably at 2.4 GHz.

        At current speeds the Opteron is consuming under 70W.

        The P4 and the Itanium 2 both draw more power than AMD processors though. The AMD is hot joke went south when Intel dropped the cooler PIII processors.
    • FLOPS/Watt the Opteron is comparable to every other processor out there, the G5, Itanium 2, Opteron, POWER4, etc all use about the same amount of power per instruction. Check out their Specfp_base2000 scores and compare them to average thermal power output, they are all in the same ballpark give or take about 10%. Check out my post Here [] for some concrete numbers for the G5 and Opteron.
    • It seems like I'm saying this every day on /. now... (and getting moded up most of the time, ironically)

      Intel P4 processors produce MORE heat than equivalent AMD XP processors, AND P4s have a maximum heat tolerance of about 20C degrees less than the equivalent AMD XP processor.
    • At 135 watts each (and the largest die size of any major microprocessor), the Itanium does a fine job of being a space heater. Better than any AMD chip.
  • The headline for the Slashdot article is a bit misleading. It's the fastest non-military supercomputer in the US; it's the fastest Linux-based supercomputer in the world (at least, it's supposed to be). It's not the fastest supercomputer in the US, though.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:13AM (#6810862)
      OMFG has slashdot gotten so fscking lazy as to not even read the SUMMARY now!?

      Touted to be the fastest unclassified computer in the US, its main duties will be atmospheric chemistry, systems biology, catalysis and materials science.

      1. NEC's Earth Simulator, 41 teraflops, Japan
      2. Hewlett-Packard's ASCI Q, 20.5 teraflops, Los Alamos National Laboratory (Classified, Nuclear Weapons testing)
      3. IBM's ASCI White, 12.3 teraflops, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. (Classified, Nuclear Weapons testing)
      4. Fujitsu's Primepower, 12 teraflops, National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan.
      5. Hewlett-Packard's Itanium2, 11.8 teraflops, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

      But then again that chart goes of R(peak) instead of R(max)

      • What ever happened to HP's super huge cluster of machines sitting in their stores? I thought that was going to be leveraged into some kind of grid? Speaking of grid, any news from IBM on their grid technology? Or has it faded away as I predicted? Heh.
  • Licensing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wideBlueSkies ( 618979 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:10AM (#6810838) Journal
    Did HP buy licenses for this setup? Could this be why SCO says HP is in the 'clear'?

    • SCO? (Score:5, Funny)

      by raehl ( 609729 ) * <raehl311@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @04:13AM (#6811790) Homepage
      McBride: We have learned that your government secret agency is using Linux IP in violation of our intellectual property rights.

      Secret Government Agency: We have learned that SCO owes billions of dollars in back taxes, and that you have an affinity for barnyard animals.

      McBride: But I havn't been on a farm in 40 years!

      Secret Government Agency: That's not what these pictures generated by our new Linux supercompter say.
  • jump up an say "Well smack my ass and call me Sally!"
  • Uh OH (Score:3, Redundant)

    by dieMSdie ( 24109 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:13AM (#6810858)
    Imagine the royalties SCO will be demanding here . . .
  • by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:15AM (#6810868) Homepage
    Now, let's see if we can /. the world's fastest linux powered unclassified computer.

    Got URL?
  • Yay! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bridog ( 410044 ) <{ude.urwc.op} {ta} {8blb}> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:17AM (#6810881)
    RC5-1024 here we come!

    Call me back in about 200 years.
  • ... is to run Linux on it.

    "It's solving complex problems and moving 11.8 terraflops, but the real interesting bit is that it's running Linux!"
    • Hmm what is the name of this site again, could it be slashdot.?

      I think you may have accidentally posted to slashdot when you really ment to post to your AOL buddies on the I LUV Windows list.
      • "I think you may have accidentally posted to slashdot when you really ment to post to your AOL buddies on the I LUV Windows list. "

        Or he was just commenting that Linux (or Unix) was a no brainer for a project like that.

        You guys get too defensive of Linux, it's not necessary. It's earned itself a good rep. That doesn't go as far when you act as though everything's a fight with Windows.
  • by Raleel ( 30913 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:24AM (#6810914)

    a more direct link to info about the facility. EMSL is a scientific user facility, designed to be a collaboration point and resource for environmental and molecular sciences (Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory).

    You can read about what the computer will be used for, what stuff is inside it, even see the job status. It's pretty neat stuff. The folks over there should be quite proud of what they've done. Yes, I work at PNNL :)

    It is a demon of a machine. It's huge. It's very fast. I hope some good life/world saving chemistry comes out of it.
  • It could recompile its own kernel?
  • Guarantee (Score:3, Funny)

    by oobar ( 600154 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:36AM (#6810972)
    I will personally bludgeon to death anyone who posts a "Beuwulf cluster" joke to this story. Let's just get that out of the way...
    • FINE.

      I wonder if we could make these SMP enabled??

      (dons anti-bludgeoning device)
    • There are already two of them. Interestingly, the first one has been modded down to -1 while the second has been modded up to +4. I guess some moderators are as humor challenged as you.

      There is also the obligatory "In Soviet Russia" comment as well as expected SCO licensing joke. So far, the only thing that's missing is a CowboyNeal joke but those generally only show up on polls.

      But I can make up something really lame concerning CowboyNeal and super computers if you like...
  • Gee, I need to get my hands on such a beast. I'll probably have a better Internet experience.
    Intel says that a P4-M can achieve 50% greater performance in Internet experience []. Cool. With 11.8 teraflops, Internet experience will be what, like 99999% greater ? Gee, that sounds better than an orgasm.
  • by toddhunter ( 659837 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:37AM (#6810980)
    But according to Apple the G5 is 10% quicker under their latest benchmark tests.
  • Hot damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by ArmorFiend ( 151674 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @12:39AM (#6810985) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what kind of FPS they get in TuxRacer...
  • But how many frames per second does it get on Doom III?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    machines paid for with public funds do not count as anything of note... ever.

    too much politics and not enough "bottom line"

    instead i prefer to study all the machines listed in

    and then i discount all the sites running clusters paid for using taxpayer dollars is a fascinating list.

  • by kdsolutions ( 700768 ) <> on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:16AM (#6811139) Journal
    ... welcome our new 11.8 TFLOP overlord.

    Hello, HAL.
  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:23AM (#6811170)
    that 10,000 Opteron Cray supercomputer [] comes online...although I guess that system may not be unclassified.
  • In light of the SCO case, I wonder if they have released the source for the OS for that machine, as required by the GPL. This may be a case to test HP's stand in that case.
  • DOes anyone know (as I can't work out from the article) if this is a Single System Image ala SGI Altix hardware or it is a cluster? Would love to see the interconnect spped

    • I work on this beast. No, it isn't an SSI. It is a cluster of 972 dual processor Itanium nodes. Coincidentally, we also have a 128 way Altix on site as well...

      As for interconnect, we use Quadrics Elan 3 currently, with plans to move to Elan 4 in the near future. I'm not sure what I can say number wise, as we are under NDA for a lot of such things...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2003 @02:43AM (#6811463)
    In the dim times there was one company called Cray that built big, expensive custom designed vector supercomputers. It took forever to build one so Cray could always insure they were profitable because they always new how many orders they had well in advance and could staff and spend appropriately and they were pretty much the only game in town.

    One day SGI got tired of doing just fluffy graphics and built the MIPS R8000 which was probably the first really successful CMOS supercomputer on a chip. They completely carved up Cray from the low end up and eventually pushed them into a merger from hell that nearly destroyed both companies.

    Around this time the Department of Energy had to give up setting off nuclear bombs to see if they actually worked and got in the business of funding these massive supercomputers mostly to simulate bombs and then some other stuff too. Unfortunately the DOE changed companies and architecture with each new contract. They managed to suck SGI, Intel, IBM, Cray, HP and countless others in to this prestige contest and I doubt its been particularly good for any of them. You see these are one off systems, that require a massive very custom engineering effort and the R&D effort seldom pays off. Its just not a good way to do business spending massive engineering effort when your usually lucky to sell one system. If you get a second one you usually have to start from scratch and do it all over again.

    They are great for prestige and maybe some of the R&D effort does translate into the companies product line but, IMHO, I think a smart, well managed computing company wouldn't touch these with a ten foot pole. Microsoft sure doesn't seem interested in pouring any effort in to trying to land one of these contracts.

    If the U.S. government had a clue they would find a way back to pouring all their money in to Cray to develop the specialized vector processors and find a new little Cray Jr. company to specialize in building the giant Linux clusters and encourage companies like IBM and HP to get out of this massive distraction from their core business.
  • I wonder how fast it runs in Utah. The Darryl effect of cocaine and higher elevation might effect slow it down a little.
  • by po8 ( 187055 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @05:58AM (#6812086)

    Its main duties will be atmospheric chemistry, systems biology, catalysis and materials science.

    IOW, studies in dealing with the power consumption of 2000 Itanium processors.

  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @06:52AM (#6812217) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how much more powerful it could of been if they designed it with Opteron processors or had waited until next summer when the release of XDDR Ram that runs in the 3ghz range would of been out.

    Keep in mind as main memory speeds catch up with processor speeds and can easily run in 128 & 256 bit configurations that the signifigance of chip cache will become less and less. If the memory standards commttee's can keep memory speeds in line wiht processors then we can see some great advances in supercomputing. Along with cheaper processors due to the lack of onboard cache's since the processors would be able to use the main memory for such purposes.

    Only stopgap into truely fast computing is the hard drive and that is quickly coming into it's solid state future as well.

    I would guess at 2006 for 10ghz PC's with the only moving parts left being the dvd player and cooling systems which at that time will probably have to be more advanced than even liquid unless we make thsoe processors run at that speed with todays power outputs.
  • by radulovich ( 47127 ) on Thursday August 28, 2003 @01:18PM (#6815705) Homepage
    As these things get faster, we'll need a better benchmark. A TERAFLOP??? Come on - can anyone really put into words what this can actually do?

    How about running SETI on it for a day (or an hour) and seeing how many units it can crank out? Then we would finally have something comparable to our own lives that we can comprehend.

    I doubt that many people know how many M/G/Tflops their own computer is, but many more probably know how long it takes to run a SETI unit.

    As a side note, I'm working on a project for my employer to put in a PETAbyte size storage solution. Now I know a petabyte is a million gigabytes, but it's much easier to think of it as seven years of medical images for each of the 30 hospitals we have. :)


"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson