Sun builds Constellation of petascale supercomputing

The only limit to scaling a Constellation is the price tag

Sun Microsystems is releasing a new high-performance computing (HPC) system that it said has the potential to create one of the largest supercomputers on the planet, reaching petascale.

Sun calls it the Constellation System. It's built on mainstream operating systems and hardware, but uses clusters and a new storage system, the Sun StorageTek 5800. That system can hold up to half a petabyte of storage per rack.

Sun's HPC cluster architecture uses chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and its own UltraSparc chips, and it supports Linux, Solaris and Windows operating systems. Each chassis can hold up to 48 blades. Sun also designed this system with InfiniBand switches.

Bjorn Andersson, director of HPC and integrated systems at Sun, said HPC users have already been assembling components into large systems. What Sun has done is to take general-purpose, industry-standard products coupled with open-source software and "designed it as an open, scalable architecture," he said.

The Constellation system can scale up to 2 petaflops, said Andersson. (A petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion floating-point operations per second.)

A Linux-based Constellation-class system named "Ranger" using 15,000 AMD quad-core Barcelona chips is already under construction at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC). That system, which could become the world's largest supercomputer when it's completed next year, is capable of peak performance at 504 teraflops, or about half a petaflop.

The only limit to scaling the Constellation is the price tag associated with building out these systems. TACC representatives said the Texas system alone is costing some US$30 million.

Sun hopes to make the Constellation easy to deploy and said that it is offering a service to build and configure to customer specifications. That kind of supercomputer-in-a-box approach is becoming common as vendors release products intended to make it easy for new HPC users to adopt the technologies.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?