New supercomputer Titan can process more than 20,000 trillion calculations, or 20 petaflops, in a mere blink by employing a series of graphic processing units first created for computer gaming.
Launched by the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), Titan will be 10 times as powerful as ORNL's last world-leading system, Jaguar, overcoming power and space limitations inherent in the previous generation of high-performance computers. Using a grid of 14-km cells, the new system will be able to simulate from one to five years per day of computing time, up from the three months or so that Jaguar was able to churn through in a day, according to an ORNL statement. Titan, which is supported by the US Department of Energy, will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials and other disciplines and pave the way for a wide range of achievements in science and technology.
Calculations in a flash
Titan also has more than 700 terabytes of memory. The combination of central processing units, the traditional foundation of high-performance computers, and more recent graphics processing unit (GPUs) will allow Titan to occupy the same space as its Jaguar predecessor while using only marginally more electricity. “One challenge in supercomputers today is power consumption,” said Jeff Nichols, associate lab director for computing and computational sciences. “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,” he added.
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.
“Titan will allow scientists to simulate physical systems more realistically and in far greater detail,” said James Hack, director of ORNL's National Centre for Computational Sciences.