Titan Debuts as 20-Petaflop Supercomputing Behemoth

The Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a 20-petaflop Cray XK7 system that is faster than the current Top 500 champion. Click the image for a larger version. (Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

Jaguar has become Titan, and it’s packing 20 petaflops of computing power. The 200-cabinet Cray supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which as Jaguar once ruled the Top 500, has been overhauled with faster hardware and networking system, and taken on a new name to reflect its super-charged capabilities.

At 20 petaflops, Titan is more powerful than the current Top 500 champ, the Sequoia supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Labs, which clocks in at 16.3 petaflops.

Titan has been accelerated by a hybrid computing architecture teaming traditional central processing units (CPUs) from AMD with the high-speed graphics processing units (GPUs) from NVIDIA to create a faster and more efficient machine. The Cray XK7 system contains 18,688 nodes, with each holding a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and an NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU accelerator. Titan also has more than 700 terabytes of memory.

Lots More Compute, Marginally More Electricity

The hybrid CPU-GPU approach will allow Titan to occupy the same space as Jaguar while using only marginally more electricity.

“One challenge in supercomputers today is power consumption,” said Jeff Nichols, associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences at ORNL. “Combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system requires less power than CPUs alone and is a responsible move toward lowering our carbon footprint. Titan will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, materials, and other disciplines to enable scientific leadership.”

By relying on its 299,008 CPU cores to guide simulations and allowing its new NVIDIA GPUs to do the heavy lifting, Titan will enable researchers to run scientific calculations with greater speed and accuracy.

Serious Power Density
Each of Titan’s 200 cabinets will require up to 54 kilowatts of power, an intense high-density load. The system is cooled with an advanced cooling system developed by Cray, which uses both water and refrigerants. The ECOPhlex (short for PHase-change Liquid Exchange) cooling system uses two cooling loops, one filled with a refrigerant (R-134a ), and the other with chilled water.

“The Titan supercomputer is an incredibly powerful Cray XK7 system combining innovative technologies from companies such as AMD and NVIDIA, surrounded by a tightly-integrated Cray hardware and software infrastructure,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “With today’s launch of the Cray XK7, we can now offer our customers the same technologies found in one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.”

The Cray XK7 system uses a high-performance Gemini interconnect, and is capable of scaling to more than 50 petaflops of performance.

Last month Data Center Knowledge published an in-depth feature (Oak Ridge: The Frontier of Supercomputing) examining Jaguar’s evolution into Titan, along with a photo gallery   (inside the Oak Ridge Supercomputing Facility). If you’re interested in supercomputing, you’ll definitely want to check these out.

Here’s a full view of the new Titan and its cabinet art (click for larger image):

The “full frontal” view of the new cabinet art on the Titan supercomputer (Image courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

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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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