Cray announce new systems and contracts

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Cray have released a string of recent announcements regarding the next-generation of its supercomputers and cluster systems, in addition to new contracts awarded to the company.

Cray announced the launch of the Cray XC40 supercomputer and the Cray CS 400 cluster supercomputer – the next-generation models of the Company’s high-end supercomputing systems and cluster solutions.

Barry Bolding, Cray’s vice president of marketing and business development said: ‘Our new next-generation systems include support for future processors and accelerators, and currently feature improvements in the Cray Programming Environment that are designed to dramatically improve performance and efficiency across both systems.’

The complete line of Cray XC40 and Cray CS400 systems feature the new Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product family, formerly code named ‘Haswell’, which the company claim will provide users with a 2x improvement in performance over previous Cray XC and Cray CS systems.

The new systems will feature DataWarp technology, an applications I/O accelerator that addresses the growing performance gap between compute resource and disk-based storage. This is achieved by introducing a new tier of high performance flash SSD directly connected to the Cray XC40 compute nodes.

This announcement reinforces the view from the DOE that data centric computing will play a key role in HPC over the next five to ten years. The report states: ‘Over the next five to ten years, in order to meet the continued computational and data-driven demands of emergent challenges, and important problems in multiple domains, the highest performing computational systems must evolve to accommodate new data centric system architectures and designs, and an ever more sophisticated and capable software ecosystem.’

Gary Grider, High Performance Computing Division Leader at Los Alamos said: ‘Los Alamos National Laboratory has been investigating burst buffer capabilities for years and the DataWarp technology in the Cray XC40 Trinity system will provide the first multi-petabyte, multi-terabyte-per second burst handling capability ever. We expect DataWarp to be the first step in leveraging node-local non-volatile storage, which will decrease our TCO going forward.’

Several high performance computing centres have recently signed contracts for Cray XC40 and Cray CS400 systems, including the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), the National Nuclear Security Administration, the PDC Centre for High Performance Computing at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, and the Department of Defense (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernisation Program (HPCMP).

John West, director of the HPCMP said: ‘Supercomputing is a key enabling technology for the DoD as it continues mission critical work to improve both the safety and effectiveness of the U.S. military. These newly acquired Cray systems ensure that scientists and engineers in the DoD’s research, engineering, and evaluation communities will continue to be able to take advantage of a robust computing ecosystem that includes the best computational technologies available today.”

The initial contract, awarded by US Army Engineering and Support Centre, Huntsville, is valued at more than $26 million in product revenue and also includes four separately priced one year options for maintenance. The system is expected to be installed in late 2014.

Additionally, Cray was awarded a contract to provide a Cray XC40 supercomputer to the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland. CSCS develops and provides the supercomputing capabilities required to solve challenging problems in science, enabling world-class research.

The Centre’s researchers and scientists will use its new Cray XC40 supercomputer to advance research in traditional areas such as material science, molecular biology, climate and atmospheric modeling, and geoscience, as well as areas that are new to high-performance computing (HPC) such as data science and analytics. The contract is valued at more than $9 million and the system is expected to be installed in late 2014.

Prof Thomas Schulthess, director of CSCS said: ‘We are excited about new opportunities provided by the additional Cray XC40 cabinets in our XC system. It will allow us to move HPC technology into new domains, such as data analytics, and greatly simplify our system setup through the integration of visualization and pre- and post-processing systems into our main supercomputing platforms. We will add new services for university partners that will greatly enhance productivity of scientists.’

In addition to utilizing the latest Intel Xeon processors, the Cray XC40 and Cray CS400 systems will be available with NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators and Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors.