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Stefan Mileschin 30th October 2012 06:09

Oak Ridge's supercomputer, Jaguar, turns Titanic
The US Department of Energy (DOE)'s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has launched its latest flagship supercomputer, dubbed Titan, which is capable of running over 20 petaflops per second using a series of upgraded AMD processors and Nvidia GPUs.

Titan has 18,688 nodes, with each having a 16 core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and an Nvidia Tesla K20 GPU. The system has over 700 terabytes of memory to play with.

Thanks to advances in GPUs, Titan is able to sit in the same space as its predecessor - Jaguar - while running slightly more electricity.

Jeff Nichols, associate lab director for computing and computational sciences, acknowledged in a statement that power consumption is a real chalenge for supercomputers. "Combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system requires less power than CPUs alone and is a responsible move toward lowering our carbon footprint," he said.

Titan will be used for calculations relating to research in energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials, and more. Cray and ORNL are currently working toward final system acceptance, although the supercomputer will be open for select projects in the meantime.

According to ORNL, most of the access to Titan will be through the Department of Energy's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program, or INCITE.

The lab claimed that Titan will be ready for utilisation on day one, as researchers have been planning around the hybrid architecture for two years now. Some areas Titan will be used are in materials science, combustion, nuclear energy, and climate change.

For example, in climate change, Titan will be able to help researchers understand future air quality as well as the effect of particles suspended in the air. According to the lab, using a grid of 14 kilometer cells, Titan will be able to simulate between one to five years per day of computing time. By comparison, its predecessor, Jaguar, could manage three months in a day.

The Top 500 supercomputer list is due out this November. Sequioa is currently at the top, recording just over 16 petaflops per second in June, so if Oak Ridge's claims are accurate, Titan could take number one.

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