By Matthew Dublin
Earlier this week at a user group meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, Cray announced that they have officially joined the "hybrid supercomputing" bandwagon with the rollout of their Cray XK6 supercomputer. The new Cray XK6 is comprised of their patented Gemini interconnect — their not-so-secret secret sauce — and high-performance AMD CPUs and Nvidia Tesla GPUs. If ordered with all the bells and whistles, the XK6 is capable of more than 50 petaflops of computing power.
The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in Manno, Switzerland, is the first XK6 customer this week, upgrading from their Cray XE6 system called "Piz Palu." Researchers at CSCS have used Cray systems for quite some time for a range of disciplines, including biology, genetics, and experimental medicine.
According to CSCS director Tomhas Schulthess, "Given the remarkable interest in GPU technology from the Swiss computational science community, it is essential that CSCS adopt this technology into its high-end production systems soon. However, we are not looking for another GPU based stunt to place high on any Top500 lists. The Cray XK6 promises to be the first general-purpose supercomputer based on GPU technology, and we are very much looking forward to exploring its performance and productivity on real applications relevant to our scientists."
Part of the pitch for the new systems is that Cray XT4, Cray XT5, Cray XT6 or Cray XE6 systems are easily upgradeable to the Cray XK6 system, which is expected to be available in the second half of 2011. It can also be configured in a single cabinet or a multi-cabinet system with tens of thousands of compute nodes.