SUPER COMPUTERS - OVERVIEW
Supercomputers introduced in the 1960s were designed primarily by Seymour
Cray at Control Data Corporation (CDC), and led the market into the 1970s until
Cray left to form his own company, Cray Research. He then took over the supercomputer
market with his new designs, holding the top spot in supercomputing for 5 years
(1985-1990). Cray, himself, never used the word "supercomputer," a little-remembered
fact in that he only recognized the word "computer." In the 1980s a
large number of smaller competitors entered the market, in a parallel to the creation
of the minicomputer market a decade earlier, but many of these disappeared in
the mid-1990s "supercomputer market crash". Today, supercomputers are
typically one-of-a-kind custom designs produced by "traditional" companies
such as IBMand HP, who had purchased many of the 1980s companies to gain their
experience, although Cray Inc. still specializes in building supercomputers.
The Cray-2 was the world's fastest computer from 1985 to 1989.
Challenges & Technologies
" A supercomputer generates large amounts
of heat and must be cooled. Cooling most supercomputers is a major HVAC problem.
" Information cannot move faster than the speed of light between two
parts of a supercomputer. For this reason, a supercomputer that is many meters
across must have latencies between its components measured at least in the tens
of nanoseconds. Seymour Cray's supercomputer designs attempted to keep cable runs
as short as possible for this reason: hence the cylindrical shape of his famous
Cray range of computers.
" Supercomputers consume and produce massive
amounts of data in a very short period of time. According to Ken Batcher, "A
supercomputer is a device for turning compute-bound problems into I/O-bound problems."
Much work on external storage bandwidth is needed to ensure that this information
can be transferred quickly and stored/retrieved correctly.
developed for supercomputers include:
" Vector processing
" Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)
disks (the first instance of what was later called RAID)
PARAM 10000. It used up to 4 UltraSPARC-II processors. The PARAM systems can be
extended to a cluster supercomputer. A clustered system with 1200 processors can
deliver a peak performance of up to 1TFlops/s. Even though PARAM 10000 system
is not ranked within top 500 supercomputers, it has a possibility of gaining a
high rank. It uses a variation of MPI developed in CDAC. No performance data is
available, although one would presume that it will not be very different from
that of other UltraSPARC-II based systems using MPI. Because SD2000 is a commercial
product, it is impossible to gather detailed data about algorithm and performance
of the product.
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