back to article Gawker - Texas's supercomputing Ranger

We first met Ranger in Oct. of 2006. Back then, Sun Microsystems, AMD and the Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC) speculated that they might be on the way to producing the fastest supercomputer in the world. Thanks to AMD's delays shipping a four-core Opteron chip, cabling issues and general InfiniBand woes the top dog dream …

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  1. Pierre Silver badge
    Coat

    What a pity.

    They design a machine that actually has the required specs to run Vista with performance acceptable for office work, and they just waste it on research projects???

    Would you pass me my coat? Yes, the "Micro$haft sux" one...

  2. Herby Silver badge
    Coat

    Yes, but...

    Will it make El Reg's pages display any faster?

    Out the door...............

  3. Guy
    Boffin

    So let me check this

    And I know in the past my maths has let me down something terrible, so if I get this wrong, and I probably will, please feel free to flame away.

    IBM has 106,496 Power PC Cores for 596 TFlops

    AMD/SUN has just 15,744 Opterons for 504TFlops (Or 62,976 cores as each chip is quad core)

    So IBM uses 43520 more cores for a speed increase of 92 TFlops.

    I'd say core for core, that's still pretty darn impressive for AMD/SUN, if they can just add in another 2874 chips they could still take the crown. (11496 Cores)

    Now where did I put that copy of Crysis, I think I've found the machine for the job.

  4. Ru

    60% more cores but

    What of price or power consumption?

    I suspect a typical opteron core has a bit more oomph than a typical power core, but if its eating 4x the energy to get there it would seem the better solution might be to nail two big ibm machines together...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @So let me check this

    The Blue Gene/L systems uses many densely packed, relatively low performance CPUs (700Mhz PowerPC 440s I think) whereas Ranger uses current generation quad-core Opterons.

    This was a design decision IBM made with BG/L - they wanted density, so needed a cooler, slower chip, but it isn't a huge issue since Blue Gene is designed to scale.

    That said, since Sun has started with higher performing CPUs they have a good chance to overtake the current Blue Gene/L systems if AMD can get their yields sorted out. Constellation is a 2 PetaFLOPS system on paper - I believe limited by footprint/cable length rather than any inherent architecture scaling issues.

    Of course it never stands still, IBM have Blue Gene/P on the way and Hitachi are planning on getting in act with some crazy vector machine...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Overclocking anyone?

    AMD's overclock well or at least they used to.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice x86 hpc solution

    This Texas supercomputer solution seems to be unique in a number of ways.

    1) The unibody rack holds 4 rows of blades, with 12 blades in each row = 48 blades, the densest x86 fat node blade architecture for HPC.

    2) Each blade node has 4 cpu sockets and 32 DIMM slots, high memory bandwidth and capacity with lowest cost DIMMs,

    3) Each blade node is connected to the fat IB switch directly without any intermediate switch layer, lowest node to node latency

    The TACC supercomputer uses 32GB per node, seems to have no usable local storage, except a CompactFlash to boot from.

    The IBM BlueGene uses weaker PPC cores but is a lot denser compared to any x86 solution. Although BlueGene can reach much higher peak flops, fewer HPC applications are suitable for this.

  8. mike
    Paris Hilton

    re: Pierre

    If you'd get rid of your 486sx and step up to a nice dual core system with a couple gigs of RAM and a nice hard drive you might not have to make such silly statements. Personally I've been running Vista for over a year now and aside from the normal headaches of transitioning to a new MS OS it gets my work done. Then again a Q6600@3gHz, 3.6gb's of RAM, 8800GTS, and Raptors run Vista like a champ.

    Why Paris? Cuz she is pretty like Vista!

  9. Chris Cartledge

    @Nice x86 hpc solution

    When are the rest of us going to get a chance to buy these quad core Opterons? There is a worrying silence about Barcelona.

  10. John Chopper
    Coat

    Now, if they made a laptop version....

    I might be interested

  11. John PM Chappell
    Flame

    Re: re: Pierre

    Mike - in other words an over-powered system to run an underpowered resource hog that looks 'pretty' (actually, I don't like the interface but that is a side issue), has compatibility issues and basically adds nothing of genuine interest to the consumer but a lot of crap for MS friends in Hollywood, etc.

    Vista is rubbish and to a man, everyone I know who has it experiences serious issues with it, especially with hardware and software compatibility. Those applications which can be made to run on it but were not written for it seem to experience serious performance degradation compared to XP. Is this honestly an OS you want to blow the trumpet for?

    Of those I know using it, half wish they had XP instead and several have asked to *ahem* downgrade them to a copy of XP and move their data back on for them. I may yet help them out too, if I find the time.

  12. Pierre Silver badge
    Pirate

    ReRePierre @Mike and John PMC

    Glad that you both got my point.

    Though I apologize for starting this argument. Not.

    I might add that I completely agree with the vista/Paris comparison. You might find the look pretty (though it's not my case, for both) but they're rotten inside.

    Most Vista machines lack a shaft port though, whereas Paris reportedly have three fully functionnal ones. That'd be the IT angle.

    Now where's my coat?

  13. Pierre Silver badge
    Joke

    Nice piece of kit.

    But does it blend?

  14. John PM Chappell
    Happy

    Pfft.

    No real argument, I suspect. Aside from 'fanboi' types I can't imagine anyone really claims to like Vista and my experience is pretty negative even ignoring the interface. I don't see that there is any real argument. In fact, even XP is bloated and underpowered really but we have had years to learn to exploit it and write apps that get the most from it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    @ Pierre

    <quote>Most Vista machines lack a shaft port though, whereas Paris reportedly have three fully functionnal ones. </quote>

    Ahem - BUT MS shafted their customers....

    Sorry could not resist the open joke.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vista

    No problems here, been running it since January 2007. I'm no MS Fanboy (we're 99.5% Linux at work) and also not on super new hardware, my motherboard was released 3 years ago! Runs fine, more productive than XP, non of my apps have barfed (with the exception of 2+ year old HP KVMoIP client - the only reason that barfs is because the installer specifically checks for supported OS, rather than checking for specifically un-supported OS - but changing installer to Win2k compatibility fixes that.)

  17. Im_Gumby
    Coat

    @ Pierre

    But would you want to plug your dongle into that port?

    I'm sure there's a couple of latex firewalls in here somewhere...

  18. Neil

    1 Hour?

    So it's about 3 times quicker than Concorde?

    And that was designed in the '60s...

  19. Brian Wright
    Gates Halo

    @ Pierre

    Firstly the whole M$ or Microshaft et all is juvenile at best and just plain sad at worst. If it weren't for them shafting us for years os's wouldn't be where they are. Also I run Vista now, was using a dual boot xp/vista but went over to just running Vista. I also have various versions of Linsux (see how silly it is). My machine isn't special, an Intel 6400, 3Gig of 6400 DDR2 Ram at 4-4-4-12, around 8-900 Gig HD space, a 7900GT.

  20. mike
    Gates Horns

    re: Re: re: Pierre By John PM Chappell

    Oh c'mon. Lets just pick the biggest easiest target and have make some fun of it instead of being a man about it and rising above. Fanboi...no, I'm just the guy that puts in the time to make it work because I know that eventually my clients may be buying it or somehow end up with it on a new PC. In the IT business it pays to keep up with the latest software instead of being suprised by it.

    I fully expected there to be issues with Vista when it came out, just like XP, and 2000, and ME, and 98, and 95, and 3.1, and 6.22, and 5.0, and .......everytime there is a major shift in the kernel I expect vendors to take some time to catch up with drivers and software to make everything work peacefully together-ever notice that somehow MS stuff seems to work almost perfectly on the newest OS? I also expect each newer version of MS-whatever to require more hardware-this is not a new concept with MS OS's; it has been going on for 15+years.

    Do I recommend Vista for my clients?-no, they are comfortable with XP and it does what they want. Do I recommend it to power users....yea, have a ball with it and your new overpowered quad core PC and double-wides(put that in the reg dictionary as a pair of 20" or larger widescreens hooked up to a single PC).

    When too much is just right!-RockfordFosgate

  21. Pierre Silver badge
    Linux

    @ Bryan and mike

    "My machine isn't special, an Intel 6400, 3Gig of 6400 DDR2 Ram at 4-4-4-12, around 8-900 Gig HD space, a 7900GT"

    fdotflsltih* want one now. Do they come in platinum cases with diamonds?

    "your new overpowered quad core PC and double-wides"

    We actually have a couple of these things. For advanced 3D image analysis. They run Vista just fine. I love annoying (l)users by telling them that they would run "like, 1000 times faster" under Linux, and threatening to show them ("of course, you'll have to get a grasp on bash first, but you're clever, shouldn't be a problem" is when they pass out)

    I still prefer my good old Linux box with a plain Turion 64 x2 and 1G of RAM, and its 19' CRT. But I also prefer the busty farm maid next door over Paris...

    Where's the "busty milkmaid" icon???? Let's go for the "chubby penguin" instead. They've got tighter ports anyway (http://flow.arrr.net/penguins.pdf).

    * just in case you wonder: falling down on the floor laughing so loud that it hurts

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