An unusual supercomputer had its official coming out party on Wednesday, March 6, at the MENA ICT Forum in Jordan. The public debut (and symbolic unveiling) put the spotlight on one of the country's proudest technological achievements: the IMAN1, Jordan's first supercomputer. Iman means "faith" in Arabic.
"This project embodies the Jordanian spirit of accomplishing great projects with limited resources and making the impossible possible," said Abudayeh,an engineer at Jordanian computer consulting firm Al Oula. "Our presence today reflects the true meaning of devotion and ambition and we are proud to be among the leaders in the ICT sector."
The designers succeeded in that quest, and they did so with what might seem to be most unusual cores. IMAN1 was built from 2,260 Sony PlayStation3 devices. And why not? Several companies are working on HPC systems and datacenter servers based on ARM chips, which got their start in small devices, such as smart phones.
The Sony video game consoles spots some pretty decent technology. The PS3, first launched in 2005, uses a 3.2 GHz "Cell" microprocessor with a PowerPC RISC microprocessor at its core. The PowerPC chip family was considered to be possibly the fastest microprocessor in the world not too long ago. It was designed by IBM and first used in its RS/6000 computers, released in 1990. Apple, IBM and Motorola then teamed up a few years later to further the design in an attempt to break Intel's x86 hegemony. (The attempt didn't succeed.) For a while PowerPC chips were used in Apple's Power Mac computers. Apple switched to Intel chips with the introduction of the iMac in 2006.
The PS3 Cell processor peaks out at about 230 gigaflops. The PowerPC core, loaded with 512 kilobytes of L2 cache, is described as the Cell's "processing element," and it gets a lot of help. There are eight more processors on the Cell chip, known as Synergistic Processing Elements (SPE), Those chips are 128-bit SIMD vector processors with 256 kilobytes of SRAM each. The PowerPC delegates processing tasks to seven of the SPEs as they become available. The eighth is a backup in case of failure of any of the others.
The PS3 also sports 550 MHz NVIDIA G70 GPUs, co-designed with Sony. Also known as the "Reality Synthesizer," the G70 is a 550 MHz chip that packs in 300 million tranistors.
Based on all that horsepower, the IMAN1 claims 25 teraflops. That gives it about a third the processing power of the 500th most powerful computer in the world, according to the November 2012 TOP500 list – a Japanese computer that gets 76.4 teraflops Rmax. The designers also say it has one of the best price-performance ratios of any HPC system in the world, but doesn't reveal the numbers.
The project started in January 2010 and the IMAN1 was fired up in October 2011. It is now being used by Jordanian universities for science and engineering research.
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Last week, AMD announced that Livestream, the company that connects millions of people over the Internet to live events, has deployed AMD's SeaMicro SM15000™ server with SeaMicro Freedom™ Fabric Storage as the core platform to provide live video and collaboration services. The SeaMicro SM15000 server was selected by Livestream because it provides the high performance computing required for live video transcoding and doubles computing density while reducing power consumption. The additional resources provide Livestream with ample capacity for expansion.
The overall analysis by Livestream showed that the SeaMicro SM15000 server provided significant energy savings compared to solutions from the other leading server vendors, as verified by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Livestream received a grant from NYSERDA that covered a significant portion of the SeaMicro SM15000 server purchase price. NYSERDA was established to help New York meet its energy goals of reducing energy consumption, promoting the use of renewable energy sources, and protecting the environment. The grant was based on an audited proposal and on-site inspection to verify the power savings.
"Our data center has plenty of rack space, but we just could not fill them with servers because we could not get enough power to the racks," said Thomas Bonnin, chief architect, Livestream. "SeaMicro technology provides the highest density servers on the market allowing us to get multiple racks of servers into a quarter of a rack with AMD's SeaMicro SM15000 system. What's more, the technology allows us to reduce power consumption and the resulting cost savings goes straight to our bottom line. The SeaMicro SM15000 server also allowed us to double our computing capacity while at the same time retiring our energy-inefficient servers."
As a result of its rapid growth, Livestream is building out an architecture that will scale to support hundreds of millions of people. After rigorous testing and evaluation, Livestream selected AMD's SeaMicro SM15000 high density server because in addition to providing reduced power consumption, it was optimized for Internet applications while providing the compute power to transcode live video. The SeaMicro platform was tested to be used for front end web applications, backend application programming interfaces (API), workflow systems and streaming infrastructure.
"We went through a rigorous set of testing benchmarks as Livestream evaluated servers from the leading vendors in the market," said Andrew Feldman, corporate vice president and general manager, Data Center Server Solutions, AMD. "Real time video transcoding is one the most demanding applications for a server, and our SM15000 server with the Freedom Fabric's 1.28 terabits-per-second bisectional bandwidth proved to be the winning platform. It not only delivers the computing power and low latency needed, but also creates compelling savings in both space and power."
More information on AMD's SeaMicro technology is available at www.seamicro.com
Source: DataCenter Knowledge