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"Thunder" - N. America's Fastest Linux Supercomputer

"Thunder" - N. America's Fastest Linux Supercomputer

A Linux cluster deployed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and codenamed "Thunder" yesterday delivered 19.94 teraflops of sustained performance, making it the most powerful computer in North America - and the second fastest on Earth.

The 4,096 Itanium 2 processor based cluster is the largest Itanium 2 processor deployment, as well as the largest implementation of Quadrics' low-latency QsNet(II) interconnect technology - technologies which, in combination, allow Thunder to achieve record cluster efficiency of 86.9%, an important metric in measuring cluster scalability.

"Thunder" uses 1,024 California Digital 6440 servers, and California Digital CEO B.J. Arun was understandably proud, saying: "Thunder sets important benchmarks for massively-parallel Linux computing. We're proud to have successfully delivered such a ground-breaking Linux cluster with world-record performance and efficiency."

"Working with California Digital and Lawrence Livermore has been a great opportunity to demonstrate the absolute performance and scalability that can be achieved with Intel's Itanium2 processor," said Intel Enterprise Platforms General Manager Richard Dracott.

An official announcement declared:

Thunder's efficiency and scalability rest on the strength of its sophisticated interconnect technology, Quadrics' QsNet(II) offering. QsNet(II) (Elan4) provides the underlying high bandwidth and low latency MPI communications required by today's demanding scalable applications. With support for broadcast in hardware and scalable collective operations, QsNet(II) scales clusters efficiently to over 4,000 nodes.

Despite the technical sophistication of Thunder and the incorporation of new technologies, California Digital deployed "Thunder" in five months, speeding delivery of computing solutions to support Lawrence Livermore's national security and science programs in fields such as materials science, structural mechanics, electromagnetics, atmospheric science, seismology, biology, and inertial confinement fusion.

"Thunder represents the next generation of Linux cluster for scientific simulation," remarked Mark Seager, Livermore's Assistant Department Head for Advanced Technology. "Our applications are seeing a 50% to 400% speed up over our Intel Xeon based clusters."

California Digital has released a number of the innovative tools that manage the cluster effectively under GPL/ open source licenses as part of its FreeIPMI project for server management and configuration.

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Most Recent Comments
Zoue 12/19/04 09:30:16 AM EST

Best Wishes!

lukeh 05/14/04 05:23:21 PM EDT

Actually the real number of Google server in the system loop is unknown. 10,000 is the the offical, release but system performance and data throughput for a cluster of that size do not match the offical statistics relased by Google. Leading me as well as other to believe the google server cluster is considerably larger then 10,000 systems.

As to the cost, alex, I would say take a look at the cost of a typical itanium based server without software installed and then multiply that by the number of the servers in the cluster. Since the cluster runs an open source project, you cant bet that it was about 50 to 60% cheaper then the normal cluster, becucase they did not have to pay the O/S and as much internetworking overhead.

jay 05/14/04 05:08:52 PM EDT

what will it compute

alexmak 05/14/04 10:47:41 AM EDT

what about the cost? how much did it cost to built this supercomputer? some 15 to 20 million dollars?

Josh 05/14/04 09:29:53 AM EDT

Ya, but google's got 10,000 servers.

J Ventura 05/14/04 06:56:51 AM EDT

1024 servers running Linux! SCO must be rubbing their hands :)

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