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.