Titan the Supercomputer

Titan is one of the two fastest supercomputers in the world, capable of making 20k trillion calculations each second.


Titan supercomputer launched this month for open research development. The system is an update version of Jaguar, it is operated in Tennessee by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researchers from all around the world will be able to use Titan, to make research on subject like climate change and alternative fuels.

Steve Scott, chief technology officer of Nvidia’s GPU accelerated computing business, said in a recent interview on CNN. “There are healthcare issues, lots of diseases across the board, an aging population. Energy is a huge problem facing the world and our country. … Increasingly computers are used to solve these problems.”

There are six main areas targeted for Titan, according to S.Scott:

• Material science code. This is basically looking at material at the atom level, to understand its properties. It also involves figuring out how to construct new materials to have superior properties of strength, weight, and other characteristics.
• Climate change. Researchers want to answer questions about what’s going on, how to change it, how to adapt to it, etc.
• Biofuels. This involves looking at certain plants and converting them into ethanol using an enzymatic process.
• Nuclear energy. The technology can be used to stimulate neutron flux in fusion and fission. It includes looking at a new form of fusion energy that would be safer and cleaner, as well as new fuels that would burn longer and cleaner.
• Combustion. Titan can allow the simulation of combustion for researchers trying to optimize the fuel, process, and engine design to get a cleaner burning fuel.
• Astrophysics

“All of these areas have tremendous real world societal benefits,” Scott said. “And they need high performance computing to drive them forward.”

The system is actually way more powerful than the world current top computer from Japan. Titan is a new types of system that combine discrete graphics chips/GPUs  with standard microprocessors (like CUDA systems). Nvidia is providing the GPUs and the CPUs come from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) [yea let’s put the worst CPUs in the world inside the best supercomputer]. Graphics chips are used to accelerate the number of functions of supercomputers by allowing many tasks to be completed at once, like a multithread system, and they require less power than CPUs alone.

Titan should keep his first place when the list will be updated in a few weeks. The system, contains 18,688 nodes, with each containing a 16-core AMD Opteron processor and an Nvidia Tesla GPU based on the graphics chipmaker’s Kepler architecture. Titan also has 700 terabytes of memory.



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