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Charting the Uncharted Waters

Thanks to AMD at Work for this story

Last fall, as AMD announced the new AMD Opteron™ 6200 Series processors (code named “Interlagos”), there was an additional announcement that the National Center for Supercomputing Applications had selected Cray for their platform of choice for the Blue Waters project. Blue Waters is a huge initiative, probably the largest initiative in Supercomputing for 2012, and will be based on a Cray XE6 platform with more than 235 cabinets featuring  AMD Opteron processors. These cabinets will be joined by approximately 30 more cabinets that feature GPUs for a hybrid compute model.

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Blue Waters will be open to a large number of researchers who will be using the supercomputer to delve into such topics as the behavior of complex biological systems, the evolution of the cosmos after the Big Bang, material design at an atomic level, studying and (hopefully) predicting the behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as researching complex electrical systems like you find in airplanes.

Phase 1 of this project is the delivery of 48 cabinets of Cray XE6 systems that allow the team to build out the first phase and begin working on the programming.  Believe it or not, when you are stringing thousands of servers together to solve a single task, at times how they are connected and interact can be more important than what you are connecting. The programming model and interconnect are very critical in these systems.  That is why Cray designed their own performance optimized interconnect, called Gemini, to help tie the servers together with four 2P nodes on a single blade.

This first set of 48 cabinets is already being used by some early researchers who plan to model high-temperature plasmas, simulate the formation and evolution of the Milky Way’s most distant ancestors and study the protein capsid that encases the HIV-1 genome.

For more information about some of this work, check out

We look forward to watching the progress of this project as it comes online and invite you to do the same.  For more information you can visit the following:

The Blue Waters Newsletter

Live video feed of the installation

Time lapse of the installation of the first systems

John Fruehe is the Director of Product Marketing for Server, Embedded and FireStream products at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only.  Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

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