Constellation in Dresden
By MortazaviBlog on Jun 26, 2007
I still remember using Sun Microsystems Inc. machines when I was a graduate student doing scientific computing work at University of California, at Stanford's CTR and at NASA Ames. One particular summer, in 1987, my objective was very clear: to compute conditional probabilities of rare events based on direct numerical simulations of chaotic physical systems. Even back then it was clear that the world of supercomputing and scientific computing machines was a changing and difficult world to satisfy.
Scientific computing bars have been continuously rising since engineers and scientists used the first digital computers in the 50s and 60s to perform calculations resting on all kinds of scientific problems.
Sun broke into this market in a big way when it first introduced its scientific computing desktops and graphics stations in the mid 1980s, and later, its bigger computing servers.
[Sun Microsystems Inc.] says it now has technology to build the world's biggest scientific systems.
The Silicon Valley computer maker today is providing new details about a massive machine called Constellation, which includes an unusual high-capacity switching system for passing data among thousands of chips that act as electronic brains in the system. Sun developed the machine in collaboration with the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas, which is installing the hardware in its facility in Austin.
Andreas Bechtolsheim, a Sun co-founder who is its chief architect, attacked the problem with a massive switching system -- with the code name Magnum -- that by itself can manage high-speed data traffic for 3,456 calculating engines in a supercomputer, Mr. [John] Fowler said. Other approaches would take 300 smaller switching components, the company says. Mr. Bechtolsheim even designed special cables so that just one-sixth the number of wires is necessary to assemble a system.
When we talk about the Constellation, we are talking about hundreds of teraFLOPS.
Sun Microsystems High Performance Computing group is one of the sponsors of the ISC meeting.