Practical Technology

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Super-Duper Linux Computers


Everyone who follows super-computers knows that they run on Linux. Just one look at the latest Top 500 SuperComputer list confirms that. Today 91.8% of all super-computers run Linux. Alas, if you look at the latest list, you’ll also see that the U.S. now trails China in the super-computers. IBM’s new CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics chips, though, should soon put the U.S. back in the lead.

Today the fastest of the fast computers is the Tianhe-1A Running full-out, it hits a peak performance of 2.57 petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second).and cruises along at 563.1 teraflops. To do this, it uses 14,336 Intel Xeon CPUs and 7,168 NVIDIA Tesla GPUs and Linux.

That’s impressive. The Tianhe-1A easily races past the Cray XT5 “Jaguar” system at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee. That Cray XTS super-computer is now ranked in second place at 1.75 petaflop/s.

Don’t start weeping for the decline of American technology prowess yet, though. IBM’s new addition to its POWER7 chipset uses Silicon Integrated Nanophotonics to reach new heights in processor speed. In these chips, light instead of electronics is used for its input/output (I/O )interconnects.. This makes it possible to build faster–much faster–super-computers, and eventually servers and PCs.

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