Hawking is First User of SGI ‘Big Brain’ Supercomputer

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One of the compute blades for the new SGI UV2 (Photo: SGI)

Calling your product the “Big Brain Computer” is a heady claim. It helps if you have Dr. Stephen Hawking say that the product can help unlock the secrets of the universe.

That’s the scenario for UV2 “Big Brain” computer from SGI, which is being unveiled in time for next week’s International Supercomputing Conference. The company is billing the UV2 as the world’s largest shared memory system, with the ability to scale up to 4,096 cores and 64 terabytes of memory. At a peak I/O rate of four terabytes per second, SGI says the UV 2 could ingest the entire 10 terabyte contents of the U.S. Library of Congress in less than three seconds.

That’s the kind of horsepower that got the attention of Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, who currently is the Director of Research at the Institute for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge. Hawking also heads the UK Computational Cosmology Consortium (COSMOS), which has been a user of SGI’s first-generation UV technology.

“I am very pleased to be receiving the first SGI UV 2 supercomputer in the world,” said Hawking. “New observations of our Universe, like the Planck satellite, are offering us exquisite new insights. In order to test our mathematical theories, we need to match this detail in our computer simulations. The flexible new UV 2 COSMOS system, soon to be supercharged with Intel’s MIC technology, will ensure that UK researchers remain at the forefront of fundamental and observational cosmology.”

The SGI UV operates like a workstation, making it less complex to manage than traditional scale-out systems with many nodes. SGI says the system can run anything from desktop applications to common scale-out applications, making it an alternative to small to medium clusters.

Outcomes, Not Algorithms

“Users can focus on outcomes, not algorithms with the ability to rapidly innovate; taking analysis from a laptop, scaling up on SGI UV with no re-writing of code or additional data management required,” SGI said in a technical note, which positioned the UV2 as ideal for multi-terabyte problems in genomics and bioscience, chemistry and materials, physics, integrative systems science, product design and national security.

“The technological advancement demonstrated in this next-generation SGI UV platform is not simply focused on increasing our lead in coherent memory size and corresponding core count,” said Dr. Eng Lim Goh, chief technology officer of SGI. “We have been able to deliver all of this additional capability while driving down the cost of the system. In fact, the entry level configuration of SGI UV 2 is 40 percent less expensive than SGI UV 1. This creates a new level of accessibility for large shared memory systems for researchers and the ‘missing middle’, providing an effective lower overall TCO alternative to clusters.”

SGI UV2 is available today, with pricing starting at $30,000 USD. SGI UV2 features the Intel Xeon processor E5 product family and runs unmodified, off-the-shelf Linux software. SGI UV 2 also supports Intel’s many integrated cores (MIC) technology as well as NVIDIA Quadro GPUs and Tesla Accelerators.

A full cabinet of gear for the SGI UV2000 system (Photo: SGI)

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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14 Comments

  1. AJ

    That will do for a new quake server

  2. Citrus Rain

    Quake server? Nonono... We're going to use this to find out what question 42 is the answer of.

  3. AC

    SGI is still in business?

  4. AR

    ^ Troll.

  5. VS

    Two greatest comments ever.

  6. WS

    So now I'll be able to play on High-Resolution on Crysis 3?

  7. Anon

    If Crytek released it for Linux you would.

  8. @Citrus Rain --- Duh, it's "What's 6x9?".

  9. Bob

    These things are going to ROCK SO HARD Also I think you can run Windows 2008 HPC edition on them also. But I don't think they scale quite as large.

  10. Cristopher

    would this run my VM???

  11. It's called WINE, and it'll probably run Crysis 3 pretty well within the first month of the game's release. So hi-res Crysis 3, here we come!

  12. Denieru

    No, there's not a chance that you will get any game running on this since it doesn't have a GPU that's good enough for Tibia. The GPU:s this baby have are to calculate things, not to render them.

  13. clearner

    @Denieru Did it ever cross your mind that maybe rendering is actually a bunch of calculations?

  14. rahul

    does it work as future machine