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September 17, 2010

SGI readies first Project Mojo supercomputers and gets closer to petaflop in one rack systems

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From ChannelRegister: Supercomputer maker Silicon Graphics is just about finished with the initial designs of the "Project Mojo" dense-packed HPC machines. The systems will begin their initial shipments in December, 2010.

SGI will be introducing new class of racks for the consolidated SGI and Rackable Systems server product lines. SGI will not quite be able to cram a petaflops into a rack after all, but will have a more compact design than traditional rack and blade servers offer.

Newly merged supercomputer maker Silicon Graphics and hyperscale server maker Rackable Systems, were kicking around the idea of how they might cram a petaflops into a server rack. SGI was measuring those petaflops in single precision mode. Project Mojo would still require a different approach from just plunking GPU or other kinds of co-processors onto existing SGI rack and blade servers.

The stick of the Project Mojo system is a computing element that is nearly as long as the rack is deep - three feet - with the width and a little more than the height of a double-wide PCI-Express peripheral card. Mannel wouldn't say what processor is implemented on the stick, but it is possible that SGI has variants with both Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron processors. Considering that Project Mojo is an experimental system with limited sales on the front end, it is reasonable to conjecture that SGI will start with Xeons and expand into Opterons if there is customer demand.


Each stick has room for two double-width fanless GPU co-processors and two processor sockets. Each socket gets its own GPU in the floating point models; it is unclear how many Tilera chips will be in the integer models.

The Project Mojo systems will come in two racks and with two different stick capacities. The high-end box will use a modified version of the 24-inch blade racks employed by the Altix UV 1000 supers, which are based on Intel's Xeon 7500 processors and SGI's NUMAlink 5 shared memory interconnect, while another will be based on a new 19-inch rack, code-named "Destination," that aims to replace the 20 different racks that SGI inherited from the merger of SGI and Rackable Systems. The modified 24-inch Altix UV rack will hold 80 sticks, each with two CPUs and two double-wide GPU co-processors. The 19-inch Destination rack will be able to hold 63 sticks.

Assuming SGI can employ the AMD FireStream GPUs announced in late June, and based on the "Cypress" GPUs, in the Project Mojo boxes, then the larger 24-inch rack machine using the double-wide FireStream 9370 should hit 422 teraflops of aggregate GPU performance and the smaller 19-inch rack should come in at 332.6 teraflops

Using Nvidia's double-wide, fanless Tesla M2070 GPUs there would be 164.8 teraflops for the 24-inch rack and 129.8 teraflops for the 19-inch rack. 82.4 double precision teraflops with the Tesla M2070s and 84.5 teraflops with the FireStream 9370s.

There should be multiple ways of getting to a petaflops within one year's time. These initial Mojo sticks are just the first pass.

Eight Tilera 100-core chips on a Project Mojo stick and the same 80 sticks in a 24-inch rack, that works out to 480 trillion integer operations per second. You need a little more than twice this density to do integer math on the analog of a petaflops in floating point performance, which is a quadrillion (10^15) integer calculations per second. Luckily, Tilera is working on a 200-core chip, due around 2013, which should help SGI hit that goal.


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