System at Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab Will Be One of World's Fastest -- Cray and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science announced today that Cray has won the contract to install a next-generation supercomputer at the DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). The systems and multi-year services contract, valued at over $52 million, includes delivery of a Cray massively parallel processor supercomputer, code-named "Hood."
The contract also provides options for future upgrades that would quadruple the size of the system and eventually boost performance to one petaflops (1,000 trillion floating point operations per second) and beyond. A successor to the massively parallel Cray XT3 supercomputer, the Hood system installed at NERSC will be among the world's fastest general-purpose systems. It will deliver sustained performance of at least 16 trillion calculations per second -- with a theoretical peak speed of 100 trillion calculations per second -- when running a suite of diverse scientific applications at scale. The system uses thousands of AMD Opteron processors running tuned, light-weight operating system kernels and interfaced to Cray's unique SeaStar network. Cray will begin shipping the new supercomputer to the NERSC facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory later this year, with completion of the installation anticipated in the first half of 2007 and acceptance in mid-2007. As part of a competitive procurement process, NERSC evaluated systems from a number of vendors using the NERSC Sustained System Performance (SSP) metric. The SSP metric, developed by NERSC, measures sustained performance on a set of codes designed to accurately represent the challenging computing environment at the Center. "While the theoretical peak speed of supercomputers may be good for bragging rights, it's not an accurate indicator of how the machine will perform when running actual research codes," said Horst Simon, director of the NERSC Division at Berkeley Lab. "To better gauge how well a system will meet the needs of our 2,500 users, we developed SSP. According to this test, the new system will deliver over 16 teraflops on a sustained basis." "The Cray proposal was selected because its price/performance was substantially better than other proposals we received, as determined by NERSC's comprehensive evaluation criteria of more than 40 measures," said Bill Kramer, general manager of the NERSC Center. "We are excited that NERSC will again be home to a large Cray supercomputer," said Cray President and CEO Peter Ungaro. "We are proud to have been selected by NERSC in a challenging and competitive evaluation process using a measurement that emulates real-world conditions, rather than a simplistic peak-performance measurement. NERSC joins a growing number of major high-performance computing centers that have selected Cray systems which exemplify our vision of Adaptive Supercomputing by handling scientific applications of ever-increasing complexity and scaling to the highest performance levels." The Hood supercomputer at NERSC will consist of over 19,000 AMD Opteron 2.6-gigahertz processor cores, with two cores per socket making up one node. Each node has 4 gigabytes (4 billion bytes) of memory and a dedicated SeaStar connection to the internal network. The full system will consist of over 100 cabinets with 39 terabytes (39 trillion bytes) of aggregate memory capacity. "AMD and Cray continue to collaborate on innovative ways to leverage Direct Connect Architecture and HyperTransport™ technology," said Marty Seyer, senior vice president, Commercial Segment, AMD. "This innovation, along with Cray's supercomputing expertise and focus on scalable system architectures, has yet again resulted in a significant win. This is confirmation that customers believe that the design and performance of the AMD Opteron processor combined with Cray's superior system architecture provides a winning combination." In keeping with NERSC's tradition of naming supercomputers after world-class scientists, the new system will be called "Franklin" in honor of Benjamin Franklin, America's first scientist. This year is the 300th anniversary of Franklin's birth. "Ben Franklin's scientific achievements included fundamental advances in electricity, thermodynamics, energy efficiency, material science, geophysics, climate, ocean currents, weather, materials science, population growth, medicine and health, and many other areas," said NERSC's Bill Kramer. "In the tradition of Franklin, we expect this system to make contributions to science of the same high order."