A closer look at Titan, the world’s fastest supercomputer
Titan, the world’s fastest supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, runs at 20 Petaflops. It also looks pretty impressive, as Oak Ridge’s pictures show.
The machine was an upgrade of a previous system, Jaguar, and used a combination of NVidia GPUs along with conventional CPU units to create unrivalled performance. The system will be used for jobs including development of biofuels, modelling climate, and simulating civilian nuclear power stations for safety checks.
The Sirens of Titan
Titan is a flagship for the model of “accelerated” computing where GPUs handle the majority of processing work in scientific systems. To upgrade Jaguar to Titan involved inserting 18,688 new processor units from AMD, to replace older Opteron chips, but around 90 percent of the computing is provided by the NVidia units.
Jaguar was also upgraded with a further 18,688 NVidia K20 GPU units, a component which is being announced formally by NVidia next week. These were also assembled onto Titan’s boards, which were then tested and inserted into the cabinets.
The Oak Ridge lab made sure to dress up the outside of the system racks to make Titan look its best. But at the heart of the system are the Kepler K20 units from NVidia – GPUs which provide both high processing power and energy efficiency.
The Titan supercomputer is much more energy efficient than its predecessor, producing more Petaflops per Watt than other green supercomputers such as IBM’s BlueGene. The cost is also lower than systems using specially-designed silicon, because NVida GPUs and AMD processors are essentially commodity products.
It will be used by scientists for a variety of tasks shown here, including the development of biofuels, climate modelling and the design of civilian nuclear reactors. So as well as using less energy itself for scientific calculations, the system will also help contribute to overall reduction of energy use.
These images appeared in a picture story on our French site, Silicon.fr.
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