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NCHC’s Formosa 4, The Largest Cloud Computing System in Taiwan, Entered the TOP500 Ranking2011/11/18

National Center for High-Performance Computing (NCHC) independently researched and developed the Formosa series supercomputer. The latest self-built Taiwan’s largest GPU cluster cloud-computing system, Formosa 4, was ranked the 234th on the 38th TOP500 list released in the SC11 Conference in November, 2011. This cluster system, including hardware, operating system, network infrastructure, and software installation, was accomplished by NCHC’s professionals. This ability not only fully demonstrates NCHC’s solid strength in cluster and parallel HPC researches, but also proves that related technologies in Taiwan are in the leading position of the cluster industry already.

Formosa 4 has 88 servers, each server equipped with two six-core Xeon 5670 2.93GHz processors, InfiniBand 40Gb/s interconnection, three Nvidia Tesla M2070 GPUs, 48GB RAM, and storage nodes for a 42TB HDD capacity. To further reduce the construction cost and increase the energy efficiency, Formosa 4 adopted a CPU/GPU hybrid computing framework. Formosa 4 costs NT $37 million dollars, with an optimal performance of 70 Tflops. If it were changed to a CPU-only framework with the same computing performance, it would cost over NT$120 million.

Implementing the testing and adjustment of the overall computing efficiency of Formosa 4 was a tough task, which involved modifying cores of operating system, altering and adjusting the network card driver, setting the network switch and network card parameters, trying numerous sets of advanced compilers, and testing several sets of computational libraries, message passing libraries, and algorithm optimization. Since 2000, NCHC had begun developing cluster techniques, so that it could accomplish this difficult task in a short period.

The difference between Formosa series and “Windrider” supercomputer, ranked the 42nd on the TOP500 list released in June, 2011 is that the Formosa series is the reflection of NCHC’s best parallel cluster techniques in Taiwan. It signifies NCHC’s capability to handle and build Taiwan’s own brand of supercomputers. Due to Formosa 4’s GPU framework allowing general-purpose computation in addition to graphics processing, it provides a complementary effect on the R&D application services of the “Windrider.” Formosa series also establishes “Render Farm” platform to provide cloud-based animation and special effect rendering services for local film and animation industry. The “Render Farm,” officially launched on November 11, 2011, will subsequently integrate dynamic simulation system and animation software to cultivate rendering techniques for special effects.

the photo of Formosa 4
Formosa 4, located at the Tainan branch of NCHC, is comprised of 2 rows of racks. Saving an enormous amount of space for its GPU framework, it occupies an area of 72 square feet.


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