Published on Feb 21, 2020
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 IBM and 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.
Supercomputer 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.
Technologies developed for supercomputers include:
" Vector processing
" Liquid cooling
" Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)
" Striped disks (the first instance of what was later called RAID)
" Parallel filesystems
SD2000 uses 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.