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Swiss centre gains next-gen supercomputer

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The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Manno, Switzerland, has awarded a contract to Cray to acquire a next-generation Cray XMT supercomputer. The announcement, made in conjunction with a CSCS-hosted workshop focused on large-scale data analysis, marks Cray’s first order for its next-generation Cray XMT system. CSCS, which is currently home to a Cray XT5 supercomputer nicknamed ‘Rosa’ and was also the recipient of the first-ever Cray XE6 system, will use its next-generation Cray XMT supercomputer for solving problems that require large-scale data analysis. The massively multithreaded system will be part of a new project at CSCS called ‘Eureka’. The proposed facility will be used for large-scale analysis of unstructured data and data mining, and is designed for parallel applications that are dynamically changing, require random access to shared memory and typically do not run well on conventional systems.

Dominik Ulmer, general manager at CSCS, said: ‘Many researchers are faced with massive volumes of data through experiments, observations and simulations on a vast array of scientific applications such as material sciences, medicine genomics, high-energy physics, climate research and astrophysics. The next-generation Cray XMT will enable our scientists to perform data analysis applications that differ significantly from the current high-performance computing workloads in that the data structures are often irregular (based on strings, trees, graphs and networks) without the high degree of spatial and temporal locality seen in physics-based simulations using regular matrices.’

Introduced in 2006, the Cray XMT supercomputer features a massive, multithreaded processing architecture designed for large data-driven problems that exist in unrelated and diverse data sets. Each processor in the Cray XMT system can handle up to 128 concurrent threads. The system is architected to scale from 16 processors up to multiple thousands of processors that can operate on multiple Tbytes of shared physical memory. CSCS is expected to receive its system later in 2011.