updated 04:20 pm EST, Fri November 21, 2008
SGI shows Atom-based HPC
At the Super Computing 2008 expo currently being held in Austin, Texas, Silicon Graphics Inc demonstrated its concept high performance computer (HPC) powered entirely by dual-core Intel Atom N330 processors, each rated at 1.3GHz in this application. The Intel chip was chosen for the HPC, code-named Project Molecule, because it fits in with the company's aim to create a supercomputer with a relatively small footprint, low cost, low power consumption and an easily programmable high-volume processor.
The chassis of the new HPC packs 90 blocks into a 3U rack, with a number of pores sized at about 0.2 by 0.2 inches for cooling. Each of the 90 blocks holds a dual-sided substrate with each side holding the Atom chip that supports the x86-64 architecture, along with an LSI and four memory chips per side that give each block a memory capacity of 2GB. The supercomputer has a total of 180 CPUs and 360 cores and consumes less than 2kW of power according to SGI.
The company now plans to add liquid cooling to allow it to increase density further, hoping to fit more than 10,000 CPU cores in a single rack. Intel developed the dual-core Atom for simple computing tasks such as browsing the web and checking e-mail, but SGI maintains its generous memory bandwidth makes it suitable for the calculations SGI intends the new supercomputer to perform exclusively.
The supercomputer has not been approved for mass production, but once it gets the green light, SGI is confident it can bring the HPC to market in about 15 to 18 months. [via Tech-On]