Introduction and account

Introduction
HPC Architecture
  1. Shared-memory SIMD machines
  2. Distributed-memory SIMD machines
  3. Shared-memory MIMD machines
  4. Distributed-memory MIMD machines
  5. ccNUMA machines
  6. Clusters
  7. Processors
    1. AMD Opteron
    2. IBM POWER7
    3. IBM BlueGene/Q processor
    4. Intel Xeon
    5. The SPARC processors
  8. Accelerators
    1. GPU accelerators
      1. ATI/AMD
      2. nVIDIA
    2. General computational accelerators
      1. Intel Xeon Phi
    3. FPGA accelerators
      1. Convey
      2. Kuberre
      3. SRC
  9. Interconnects
    1. Infiniband
Available systems
  • The Bull bullx system
  • The Cray XC30
  • The Cray XE6
  • The Cray XK7
  • The Eurotech Aurora
  • The Fujitsu FX10
  • The Hitachi SR16000
  • The IBM BlueGene/Q
  • The IBM eServer p775
  • The NEC SX-9
  • The SGI Altix UV series
  • Systems disappeared from the list
    Systems under development
    Glossary
    Acknowledgments
    References

    OVERVIEW OF RECENT SUPERCOMPUTERS

    In this report we give an overview of high-performance computers which are currently available or will become available within a short time frame from vendors; no attempt is made to list all machines that are still in the development phase. The machines are described according to their macro-architectural class. Shared and distributed-memory SIMD an MIMD machines are discerned. The information about each machine is kept as compact as possible. Moreover, no attempt is made to quote price information as this is often even more elusive than the performance of a system. In addition, some general information about high-performance computer architectures and the various processors and communication networks employed in these systems is given in order to better appreciate the systems information given in this report.

    This document reflects the technical state of the supercomputer arena as accurately as possible. However, the author nor SURFsara take any responsibility for errors or mistakes in this document. We encourage anyone who has comments or remarks on the contents to inform us, so we can improve this report.

    INTRODUCTION AND ACCOUNT

    This is the 23nd edition of a report in which we attempt to give an overview of high-performance computer systems that are commercially available or are expected to become available within a short time frame (typically a few months to half a year). We choose the expression "attempt" deliberately because the market of high-performance machines is highly volatile: the rate with which systems are introduced — and disappear again — is high (although not as high as a few years ago) and therefore the information may be only approximately valid. Nevertheless, we think that such an overview is useful for those who want to obtain a general idea about the various means by which these systems strive at high-performance, especially when it is updated on a regular basis.

    We will try to be as up-to-date and compact as possible and on these grounds we think there is a place for this report. Generally speaking, integrated parallel systems have for the most part given away to clustered systems. Indeed, it becomes hard to distinguish between them these days as many features that set integrated systems apart from clusters appear in the latter systems and characteristics present in clusters are now present iin what used to be called integrated parallel sytems. It has become all the more clear that no one processor type is best for all possible types of computation. So, a trend is emerging of diversifying processor types within a single system. A first sign of this is the appearance of FPGAs, high-end graphical cards and other computation accelerators in systems with standard processors. We may expect that this trend will continue in the coming years which will make the high-performance computer landscape more diverse and interesting and harder to exploit efficiently.

    The majority of systems still look like minor variations on the same theme: clusters of RISC(EPIC)-based Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP) nodes which in turn are connected by a fast network. Culler Culler et.al., [7] consider this as a natural architectural evolution. However, it may also be argued that economic pressure has steered the systems in this direction, thus letting the High Performance Computing world take advantage of the mainstream technology developed for the mass market.

    The supercomputer market is a very dynamic one and this is especially true for the cluster world that have emerged at a tremendous rate in the last 10 years. The number of vendors that sell pre-configured clusters has boomed accordingly and, as for the last few issues, we have decided not to include such configurations in this report: the speed with which cluster companies and systems appear and disappear makes this almost impossible. We will, however, comment on cluster characteristics and their position relative to other supercomputers in section Clusters .
    For the tightly-coupled or "integrated" parallel systems, however, we can by updating this report at least follow the main trends in popular and emerging architectures. The details of the systems to be reported make this a rather bulky document.

    For some years already we include sections about important system components in order to better appreciate the systems described later: processors in section Processors, networks in section Interconnects, and computational accelerators in section Accelerators. This information is sometimes somewhat sketchy because of scant vendor information but nevertheless on average it gives a fair idea of the components' properties.

    The rule for including systems is as follows: they should be either available commercially at the time of appearance of this report, or within 6 months thereafter. This excludes some interesting systems at various places in the world (all with measured performances in the range of Pflop/s), the Tianhe-2 system (with a measured performance of around 33 Pflop/s), and some accelerator-enhanced clusters with speeds of several Pflop/s. The Tianhe-2 is a one-of-a-kind system, while the clusters mentioned are of various makings with standard components and as such no systems that are sold as ready-made products.
    The rule that systems should be available within a time-span of 6 months is to avoid confusion by describing systems that are announced much too early, just for marketing reasons and that will not be available to general users within a reasonable time. We also have to refrain from including all generations of a system that are still in use. Therefore, for instance, we do not include the euarler IBM SP or the Cray X{1,2} series anymore although some of these systems are still in use. Generally speaking, we include machines that are presently marketed or will be marketed within 6 months. To add to the information given in this report, we quote the Web addresses of the vendors because the information found there may be more recent than what can be provided here. On the other hand, such pages should be read with care because it will not always be clear what the status is of the products described there.
    Some vendors offer systems that are identical in all respects except in the clock cycle of the nodes. In these cases we always only mention the models with the fastest clock as it will be always possible to get the slower systems and we presume that the reader is primarily interested in the highest possible speeds that can be reached with these systems.

    The systems described are listed alphabetically. In the header of each system description the machine type is provided. There is referred to the architectural class for as far this is relevant. We omit price information which in most cases is next to useless. If available, we will give some information about performances of systems based on user experiences instead of only giving theoretical peak performances. Here we have adhered to the following policy: We try to quote best measured performances, if available, thus providing a more realistic upper bound than the theoretical peak performance. We hardly have to say that the speed range of supercomputers is enormous, so the best measured performance will not always reflect the performance of the reader's favorite application. In fact, when the HPC Linpack test is used to measure the speed it is almost certain that for the average user the application performance will be significantly lower. When we give performance information, it is not always possible to quote all sources and in any case if this information seems (or is) biased, this is entirely the responsibility of the author of this report. He is quite willing to be corrected or to receive additional information from anyone who is in the position to do so.

    Although for the average user the appearance of new systems in the last years tended to become rapidly more and more alike, it is still useful to dwell a little on the architectural classes that underlie this appearance. It gives some insight in the various ways that high-performance is achieved and a feeling why machines perform as they do. This is done in section architecture which will be referred to repeatedly in sections that describe the various systems.
    Up till the 10th issue we included a section Systems disappeared from the list on systems that disappeared from the market. We reduced that section in the printed and PostScript/PDF versions because it tends to take an unreasonable part of the total text. Still, because this information is of interest to a fair amount of readers and it gives insight in the field of the historical development of supercomputing over the last 20 years, this information will still be available in full in the afore mentioned section. In section Systems under development we present some systems that are under development and have a fair chance to appear on the market. Because of the addition of the section on processors that introduces many technical terms, also a glossary is included.

    The overview given in this report concentrates on the computational capabilities of the systems discussed. To do full justice to all assets of present days high-performance computers one should list their I/O performance and their connectivity possibilities as well. However, the possible permutations of configurations even for one model of a certain system often are so large that they would multiply the volume of this report. So, not all features of the systems discussed will be present. We also omit systems that may be characterised as "high-performance" in the fields of database management, real-time computing, or visualisation, scientific and technical computing being our primary interest. Still we think (and certainly hope) that the impressions obtained from the entries of the individual machines may be useful to many. Furthermore, we have set a threshold of about 20 Tflop/s for systems to appear in this report as, at least with regard to theoretical peak performance, single CPUs often exceed 5 Gflop/s although their actual performance may be an entirely other matter.

    Although most terms will be familiar to many readers, we still think it is worthwhile to give some of the definitions in section archictecture section because some authors tend to give them a meaning that may slightly differ from the idea the reader already has acquired.

    From the 16th on we will attempt to keep the web version up-to-date by refreshing the contents more frequently than once a year. So, the printed version may lag a little behind the web version over the year.