High Performance ComputingFor several decades, high performance computing meant spending millions on specialized hardware. Not to mention, taking out a wall from the building to get the hardware in and rewiring the electrical systems to provide it with the power and cooling needed. So, who could have predicted that the benign PC of the 80's would once become the center piece of some of the world's most powerful computers? Well, if you were knowledgable about disruptive technologies, you might have...
In high performance computing, hardware typically only has a life span of three years. Then performance demands are such that it must be replaced with something more powerful. The specialized UNIX™ engineering workstations have never found a use outside of engineering, so they had to be written off. The Linux workstations can live on a few more years, after their high performance computing duties are over, in less demanding positions, elsewhere in the company, where they may even run Microsoft Windows™. This allows CAE engineers and accountants to become friends 😉.
I built my first cluster with 4 dual 2.2 GHz Xeon HP systems and a gigabit switch. The second one comprised 8 IBM systems with dual 2.4 GHz AMD Opteron processors and an Infiniband™ switch. The latest one has 16 nodes and they all have two multi-core CPUs.
|CPU Configuration*)||Speed-up Factor|
|1 x 1 x 1 = 1||1.0|
|1 x 2 x 1 = 2||1.5|
|1 x 2 x 2 = 4||2.5|
|4 x 1 x 1 = 4||3.7|
|4 x 2 x 1 = 8||6.0|
|8 x 2 x 1 = 16||9.0|
|8 x 2 x 2 = 32||12.2|
|*) 4x2x1 denotes 4 nodes, with each 2 cpus, with each 1 core.|
|Cluster/DMP server||Cluster/DMP Server||Web server|
|2x Xeon E5 2.6GHz||2x Xeon E5 3.5GHz||2x Opteron 3.2GHz|
|Cluster/DMP server||Cluster/DMP Server||Database server|
|2x Xeon E5 2.6GHz||2x Xeon E5 3.5GHz||2x Opteron 3.2GHz|
|Cluster/DMP server||Cluster/DMP Server||Application server|
|2x Xeon E5 2.6GHz||2x Xeon E5 3.5GHz||2x Opteron 2.8GHz|
|Cluster/DMP server||Cluster/DMP Server||Backup server|
|2x Xeon E5 2.6GHz||2x Xeon E5 3.5GHz||2x Opteron 2.6GHz|
Just because it seems that every workstation these days is based on x86_64 architecture and the Linux Operating Systems, doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed the previous generation of UNIX™ based computer systems with RISC* architecture CPUs or the exotics from Cray, Alliant, Gould, and others before that. I did. From TNO in Delft, Netherlands we connected to the Cray-YMP of the SARA Center of the University of Amsterdam. One late night in 1990 I was connected from my home, through my 1200 baud modem, to TNO and via the "Internet" to the YMP. I typed in "who" to see who was all working on the computer that night. There was no-one. I had the Cray all to myself... That made my neck hairs stand up! 😎
*) RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computer
All throughout the '90 I loved the Silicon Graphics workstations with their MIPS CPUs and performance graphics. I even had some myself.
For several years it ran the first line office duties. It was even upgraded to Windows XP™ Then it served as my test bed for various flavors of Linux and internet access. With its 500MHz Intel Pentium III processor it was just about powerful enough to do that. It had 640 MB of RAM, a 13.5 GB hard disk, a DVD, CDRW, a camera and microphone. It has long since been replaced by a sleek little laptop, that can do all that so much better, and stream live tv on top of that.
The R260 faced the world through a 15” Sony Trinitron monitor. It had 8 MB RAM and 600 MB disc space. 10 years is a long timespan for a computer, which shows how far ahead the system was at release. Today the ARM chip that was the heart of the Acorn R260, lives on (as the "Snapdragon") in many PDAs, cell phones and calculators.
I remember it fondly for three reasons.
- It was still holding together despite numerous dings and despite losing all original screws.
- I have never found a worthy successor.
- It had the sympathetic message "READY P0" written on the display.
No computer will ever enslave me!
The table below lists some other computers I’ve met or owned and their relative CPU performance. They are all indexed against the DEC MicroVAX II using Digital Research Labs' benchmarking routines. For multi-processor systems the single CPU performance is listed, unless otherwise noted.
|System Architecture and CPU||Operating System||MVUP1||Year2|
|DEC MicroVAX II with KA630-AA (78032/78132) @ 5 MHz||VMS||1.0||1986|
|Acorn R260 ARM3/FPA10 @ 26 MHz||RISCiX 1.21c||4.6||1989|
|SGI 4D20 Mips R2000A/R2010A @ 12 MHz (IP6)||IRIX 4.0.5||8.9||1989|
|SGI 4D25 Mips R2000A/R2010A @ 20 MHz (IP6)||IRIX 4.0.5||15.8||1989|
|Cray Y-MP||Unicos 7.0.5||194.1||1989|
|SGI 4D440 Mips R3000/R3010 @ 40 MHz (4 cpu's) (IP7)||IRIX 4.0.5||37.0||1991|
|SGI 4D35 Mips R3000/R3000 @ 36 MHz (IP12)||IRIX 4.0.5||31.7||1991|
|SGI Indigo Mips R3000/R3000 @ 33 MHz (IP12)||IRIX 4.0.5||28.2||1992|
|IBM RS6000 / 34H POWER Arch. @ 42 MHz||AIX 3.2.5||65.1||1993|
|Compaq / Intel 80386 DX 33 MHz, IIT 80C387||Linux 0.99.11||2.6||1993|
|Cray C98/4256||Unicos 7.C.3||243.4||1993|
|Sun 4c SPARK cpu + TI fpu @ 40 MHz||SunOs 4.1.1||23.0||1993|
|SGI Indigo XZ Mips R4000/R4010 @ 100 MHz (IP20)||IRIX 6.2||62.0||1993|
|SGI Indigo Extreme Mips R4400/R4010 @ 150 MHz (IP22)||IRIX 22.214.171.124||97.2||1994|
|DEC 3000_500 Alpha @ 100 MHz||OSF/1 1.2.10||97.2||1994|
|HP PA 9000/715 @ 50 MHz (PA-RISK 1.1)||HPUX A.09.0||69.8||1994|
|SGI Indy Mips R4600/R4610 @ 100 MHz (IP22)||IRIX 5.2||59.3||1994|
|SGI Indigo2 XZ Mips R8000/R8010 @ 75 MHz (IP26)||IRIX64 6.0.1||125.2||1994|
|Cray C90||Unicos 8.0.3||341.9||1994|
|Cray J90 (4 CPUs)||Unicos 8.0.3||263.9||1995|
|SGI Indy Mips R5000/R5000 @ 180 MHz (IP22)||IRIX 6.2||204.1||1996|
|SGI Indigo3 Mips R10000 @ 195MHz (IP28)||IRIX 6.2||624.5||1996|
|HP C200 PA 9000/782 @ 200 MHz (PA-RISK 1.1)||HPUX B.10.20||269.8||1998|
|HP C240 PA 9000/800 @ 240 MHz (PA-RISK 1.1) (4 CPUs)||HPUX B.11.00||317.7||1999|
|Sun Ultra-Enterprise 500/6500 (4 CPUs)||SunOS 5.6||238.4||1999|
|Dell XPS T500 Intel Pentium III @ 500 MHz||Linux 2.2.14||412.9||2000|
|Compaq AP500 Intel Pentium III @ 550 MHz||Linux 2.2.14||455.2||2000|
|HP C550 PA 9000/785 @ 550 MHz (PA-RISK 2.0)||HPUX B.11.00||1304||2001|
|Compaq EVO W6000 Pentium III Xeon @ 2.2 GHz (2 CPUs)||Linux 2.4.7||1398||2002|
|Compaq EVO W6000 Pentium III Xeon @ 2.4 GHz (2 CPUs)||Linux 2.4.18||1456||2002|
|HP xw6000 Pentium III Xeon @ 2.8 GHz (2 CPUs)||Linux 2.4.18||1870||2003|
|Dell Inspiron 5150 Pentium 4HT @ 3.06 GHz||Linux 2.4.21-4||2370||2004|
|HP xw6000 Intel Xeon @ 3.2 GHz (2 CPUs)||Linux 2.4.21-9||2578||2004|
|IBM Intellistation AMD Opteron 250 @ 2.4 GHz (2 CPUs)||Linux 2.4.21-9||3996||2005|
|4 x 1 x 1 cluster AMD Opteron 250 @ 2.4 GHz (Infiniband)3||Linux 2.6.9-45||14800||2006|
|4 x 2 x 1 cluster AMD Opteron 250 @ 2.4 GHz (Infiniband)3||Linux 2.6.9-45||24000||2007|
|8 x 2 x 1 cluster AMD Opteron 250 @ 2.4 GHz (Infiniband)3||Linux 2.6.9-45||36000||2007|
|8 x 2 x 2 cluster Intel Xeon 5160 @ 3.0 GHz (Infiniband)3||Linux 2.6.18-53||49000||2008|
|HP xw9400 AMD Opteron 2380 @ 2.5 GHz (1 x 2 x 4)3||Linux 2.6.38-63||18641||2011|
|HP z800 Intel Xeon X5570 @ 2.93 GHz (1 x 2 x 4)3||Linux 2.6.38-63||29253||2014|
|HP z800 Intel Xeon X5650 @ 2.67 GHz (1 x 2 x 6)3||Linux 2.6.38-63||35024||2017|
|HP z800 Intel Xeon X5687 @ 3.60 GHz (1 x 2 x 4)3||Linux 2.6.38-63||43880||2019|
|HP z840 Intel Xeon E5-2687W v3 @ 3.10 GHz (1 x 2 x 10)3||Linux 2.6.38-63||54640||2022|
- MVUP is MicroVAX Units of Processing
- The year listed signifies the year the system was benchmarked rather than the year it was first released.
- The latest computers and clusters are too fast for the DRL benchmark to be used any longer. We have switched to using explicit finite element solver based benchmarks and scaled the numbers back to MVUPs.