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NCHC・s Formosa 5 Enters the TOP500 Ranking

2012/06/26

Taiwan's supercomputer prowess is truly a force to be reckoned with. The National Center for High-Performance Computing (NCHC) has independently developed the Formosa series supercomputers. After one of the NCHC's Formosa series supercomputers won a spot on the 2011TOP500 list, Formosa 5, a next-generation GPU-based cluster system in the Formosa series, took 232nd place on the 39th TOP500 list announced June 18th, 2012, at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’12) held in Hamburg, Germany.

Carrying on the heritage of the Formosa series, the NCHC successfully built the Formosa 5 cluster computer, the largest of its kind designed for cloud computing. Formosa 5 is made up of 92 computing nodes, each equipped with two 6-core central processing units, 3 graphics processing units, and 96 GB of memory, all sharing an InfiniBand 40 Gbps high-speed network and storage nodes with 42 TB of hard disk space. Formosa 5, after fine tuning, achieved an optimal performance of 89.94 TFLOPS. It utilizes a GPU computing structure to achieve an Rmax of 89.94 TFLOPS, a theoretical Rpeak of 155 TFLOPS, and an efficiency rating of 58%. That puts Formosa 5 in third place among the TOP500 supercomputers built with the same hardware architecture. Only the supercomputers from Poland's AGH University of Science and Technology and China's Guangzhou Supercomputer Center performed better. This achievement clearly demonstrates the NCHC's technological know-how which it has accumulated from its research in cluster computing over many years. This also demonstrates how Taiwan's software prowess has reached an international level.

In order to keep costs low, as well as to elevate its energy efficiency, the NCHC team is continuously working to improve the computing performance of Formosa 5. It has been challenging for the team to achieve such demanding goals without negatively impacting the machine's service hours. The primary goals of the team included modifying the network adapter driver in order to elevate transmission efficiency, setting the parameters for the switches and network interface cards for network optimization, and modifying the kernel of the operating system to eliminate unnecessary waste on efficiency. Faced with such a large cluster computer, the NCHC team worked under the High-Performance Linpack (HPL) Benchmark currently employed by the TOP500 to tune the system toward optimization. The team also developed a Formosa HPL efficiency evaluation program, applicable to cluster computers, in order to optimize Formosa 5’s performance.

In recent years, the demand for computing resources has increased significantly, with varied requirements coming from different nations. The Formosa series of supercomputers, designed and built entirely by the NCHC, possess the very best in parallel cluster technology and further represent the supercomputer prowess of Taiwan. Formosa 5’s GPU structure, given its characteristic capabilities of handling graphics as well as general, non-graphical calculations, has greatly improved the speed at which special applications are handled. Formosa 5 will officially commence service in July, 2012, in order to serve the domestic need for scientific R&D. Using the experience it gained from building Formosa 5, the NCHC will transfer its technology in tuning and optimization GPU clusters in order to disseminate high-level cluster technology and help bring about a better and livelier future for Taiwan's business community.

the photo fo Formosa 5
―Housed in the NCHC's Tainan Branch, Formosa 5 took 232nd place on the 39th TOP500 list.

 

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