SGI builds Pittsburgh 4,096 processor core, 16TB shared memory supercomputer

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center has announced its new machine, Blacklight, has begun operating today. It’s a $2.8 million shared-memory machine, built by SGI, specifically built in mind for the Pittsburgh centre.

The Supercomputing Center, which is a collaborative effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, has a heavyweight on campus. It has two sides, each boasting a gigantic 16 terabytes of shared memory. The centre says either half is the largest amount of shared memory built to date and both sides should be able to work and communicate with each other.

Because it’s operating shared memory, each processor will be able to enjoy full access to the memory. It means programming data won’t have to be requested indirectly from other processors, reports CNET.  

SGI’s Altix UV1000 is under the bonnet, full integrated with up to 256 sockets to complement the 16TB shared memory over four racks. It can, says SGI, deliver up to 18.5 teraflops of compute power for a single system image. Altix runs on unmodified Linux with distributions from Novell and Red Hat, and is supported by Intel Xeon 7500 processors.

The Pittsburgh system has 512 of the eight-core processors, which amounts to a humongous 4,096 processor cores. The systems are, says Stephen Shankland at CNET, mounted as blade servers in a rack cabinet stacking up at six feet.

The system is being used for research into deep boffinology – genetics, fluid dynamics, software security, language processing, molecular biology and the physics of the early universe. Blimey.