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Xserve G5 cluster achieves 12.25 teraflops

updated 01:00 am EDT, Tue October 26, 2004

\"Big Mac\" achieves 12.25TF

Virginia Tech today announced that the rebuilt among the world's 500 fastest supercomputers.

"This new number is an increase of almost two teraflops over the original System X," said Hassan Aref, dean of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering. "We are extremely pleased with the performance, using the new Apple machines."

Earlier this year, Virginia Tech announced it would transition from the Power Mac G5 line to Apple's new Xserve G5 due to the Xserve's server-optimized architecture, computing power per unit density, and performance and innovative management tools. The original System X operated at 10.28 teraflops for the official records; however, its peak theoretical performance was rated at 17.7 teraflops.

When Virginia Tech renegotiated with Apple to upgrade System X, the computer company arranged for 1,100 specially designed Xserve G5s. These systems were custom built by Apple for Virginia Tech utilizing dual-2.3GHz G5 processors. Virgina Tech said that these Xserves were developed specifically for Virginia Tech, and that Apple currently has no plans to offer 2.3GHz processors in the Xserve G5 product line. The additional cost to rebuild System X was about $600,000, which included 50 additional nodes. The company said the original cost of System X was $5.2 million.

"We believed that we could build a very high performance machine for a fifth to a tenth of the cost of what supercomputers now cost, and we did," Aref, a former chief scientist at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, said. "And we wanted to have our own supercomputer to use for ICTAS, where we will be conducting multidisciplinary work on such topics as nanoelectronics, aerodynamics, and the molecular modeling of proteins. With this machine, our researchers will be able to build computer modeling in days, not years."

In addition to the companies that participated in the first design of System X - Apple, Mellanox Technologies, Emerson Network Power, and Cisco -- Small Tree Communications, a Mac network solutions provider, will be instrumental in the operations of the rebuilt supercomputer. "Although we did not use Small Tree's technology in the benchmarking, its software will keep our communications system current and up to date," Varadarajan said.

by MacNN Staff





  1. csimon2

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Get those champagne bottles chilled for November.

  1. xwhy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Very Awesome..but?

    Isn't it outdone by the earth simulator? (Maybe i'm wrong?)

    Either way, it's great because I'm pretty sure it didn't cost nearly as much!!!

    So...FrickYeah Anyway!

  1. ziploc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE: Very Awesome..but?

    Yes, actually it's going to drop from it's previous #3 spot to somewhere in the top 10, probably not top 5. But that is because of a large number of new supercomputers making it onto the list. It's still the most bang for it's buck though.


  1. macsobel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sweet, but...

    I am sitting on Tech's campus right now, and I know that you all are more informed about it than we are as students here. If any of you are an obsessive though, take a tour...


  1. chas_m



    Teraflops is not ...

    ... the only thing to consider here. There's several areas where the VT Tech cluster is notable:

    1. COST. This is the BIGGIE. This thing does almost half the work the Earth Simulator can do, at 1/5th the price (more like 1/15th when you factor in ongoing costs).

    2. Computing power per CPU. This is why Apple beat the others on this. They are simply THE BEST BAR NONE in this area. IBM deserves at least as much of the credit as Apple on this.

    3. Futureproofing. Eventually we will get past 2.5GHz as the max speed of the G5 CPU, but for VT's purposes they won't be in a hurry to upgrade every time a slightly faster CPU become available. Why? Because there's still SO MUCH not being done with the present processor -- that's waiting on a TRUE 64-bit OS to run on it. Then the results will be even MORE impressive.

  1. das

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's currently #8

    Here's the current list:

    Source: (page 54)

    Also, here's a GREAT comparison of the cost/performance of all of the top supercomputers:

    Hint: Apple and PowerPC 970 comes out on top

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