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June 20, 2011

SGI Takes a Quantum Step Toward Exascale Computing

This week at the International Supercomputing Conference 2011 in Hamburg, Germany, technical computing company SGI announced a strategic development partnership with Intel Corp. to deliver next generation supercomputers using Intel (News - Alert) Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture based on Intel x86 architecture.

For too long, petaflop (defined as one thousand trillion floating point operations per second) computing has been reserved for the top 10 organizations in the world. This  announcement is designed to drive wide industry adoption of petaflop computing, as well as take a quantum step forward towards exascale computing, said SGI.

Integrating Intel MIC architecture into future SGI Altix ICE servers is expected to result in up to 10X increase in compute density and up to 7X decrease in power per flop. According to SGI, Intel MIC architecture features many small, low-power cores and familiar programming standards, and is expected to extend aggregate performance across the die to enable faster analysis of more complex data sets and compute problems.

“SGI recognizes the significance of inter-processor communications, power, density and usability when architecting for exascale,” said SGI CTO Eng Lim Goh, in a statement.

“The Intel MIC products will satisfy all four of these priorities, especially with their anticipated increase in compute density coupled with their familiar x86 programming environment,” added Goh.

SGI said that the company has a history of bringing accelerators into its platforms to solve the world’s most complex compute problems. As the size of applications continues to increase, accelerators provide alternatives from the perspective of density and performance per watt. A key part of its exascale strategy, integration of Intel MIC architecture allows SGI to offer acceleration options that alleviate the need to learn and port to a different development environment, said SGI. Intel MIC technology also allows legacy codes to quickly enjoy the benefits of its architecture, added SGI.

“Intel MIC architecture is designed to address one of the biggest HPC and future exascale computing challenges – software compatibility and ease of programming for fast processing of highly parallel applications,” said Anthony Neal-Graves, Intel vice president and general manager, MIC Architecture.

He added, “Intel is pleased to have SGI, the company with a rich history of innovation in service of the HPC industry, as a partner in bringing MIC technology to the marketplace. This recognizes Intel MIC architecture as a future solution addressing the needs of HPC community.”

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Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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