back to article Boffins look down back of Amazon Web Services, find a SUPERCOMPUTER

What runs faster than the majority of the world's supercomputers, costs less, and was used to research organic solar-power cells? The answer is Megarun, a 1.21-petaflop super that was spun up by Cycle Computing in the AMAZON CLOUD. Cycle Computing revealed its Megarun beast on Tuesday before the kickoff of Amazon Web Services' …


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  1. phil dude


    but until zero-byte latency is sub micro second, it is less interesting than the proper bits of iron...

    granted they are pricey, but I don't think I am the only one wanting to see a commodity implementation of Anton....


  2. Denarius Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    good tech

    An interesting use for cloud services again. If this keeps up cloud might stop being mostly market droid babble. Not a time critical job so cost effective to use spare cycles. Amazon are on a winner here.

  3. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Multiple independant jobs

    With 205,000 molecules being analysed, this job lends itself to an easy split (1 molecule per core) with very little communication between cores. This makes it an ideal fit for this sort of array of computers. For a traditional supercomputer job such as CFD (computational fluid dynamics) there is a huge amount of communication as the state of a cell affects all nearby cells. Very high bandwidth low latency interconnects are needed for that type of problem - an Amazon cloud would be almost useless.

    Except for the bragging rights and the free publicity, the job could have been done on a much smaller array - one that was one quarter of the size would have completed the job in 72 hours and they probably took over 72 hours negotiating with Amazon to get that much resource at once.

  4. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    good use case

    this is one of the VERY VERY FEW good use cases that is good for amazon (spin up a bunch of shit for 18 hours then kill it). Unfortunately the # of folks that need something like that are tiny. So Amazon markets to the general hosting audience for which it is horribly suited.

    Another similar good use case for security folks is password cracking esp with GPU acceleration. I suspect most of the folks that do this probably will do it with stolen CCs and stuff because that's just what they do, most "legit" folks don't need to crack passwords. I think this use case came up a few years ago.

    I installed this plugin on my firefox a short time ago and it made this article much more enjoyable to read

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: good use case

      I have to agree.

      As everyone knows, I am NOT a big cloud fan, but this is a very practical use.

    2. bigtimehustler

      Re: good use case

      Errm, yea because it has really harmed the way Netflix delivers its websites and content right? There are many companies that a cloud host like AWS makes sense, if your a new company but to be a success you need to scale like crazy, then a service like AWS is the only option. What else are you going to do? Buy millions of pounds worth of kit yourself...with no money to do so...for scale that may never happen? No I didn't think so.

  5. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Not the same PFLOPs

    While the scalability and the cost and the technology to schedule and manage a huge number of tasks are undoubtedly impressive it does not seem directly comparable to the Top500 supers. The Top500 rankings are based on the Linpack benchmark - those are massively parallel MPI jobs with lots of in-job communication between the processing nodes. That is completely different from running an awful lot of (mostly? totally?) independent jobs on disconnected or at best loosely coupled resources in a cloud and summing up the total FLOPs, which is what I think these guys did. I doubt very much the Amazonian beast would do well in Top500 tests.

    Once again, the above is not an attempt to put down these guys achievements. It's a note to El Reg to point out that apples are not orange and that petaflops are not born equal. The rumour of the imminent demise of the Top500-oriented parts of IBM and Cray may have been greatly exaggerated.

  6. SMabille

    Back to history

    That really makes me sound old (and unfortunately I'm getting to that stage)...

    When I was a kid, computers were too expensive so you could rent "computer/processing" time out of data center, so the only thing that really evolve is that you don't ship performed cards any more but hard disks (if you got massive data amount, too much to upload)...

  7. John Robson Silver badge


    But buying the low cost' cycles from Amazon.

    Quite impressive, and almost certainly more cost effective than a screensaver...

  8. Michael 28

    I have a bad feeling about this!

    .....SkyNet? Is that you?

  9. kyza

    But does it play BF4 on Utlra?

  10. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

    Restricted Product

    I wonder, especially in the wake of the latest leaker/whistleblower incidents, if the US gov will try to restrict sale of this service to foreign governments based on this definition of Amazon's cloud services as a supercomputer... or if they already have. My guess is that they would rather allow access and monitor.

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