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Home > iSGTW 12 September 2007 > iSGTW Image of the week - CERN's PC grid goes TOP500

Image of the week - CERN’s PC grid goes TOP500

CERN’s computer cluster recently rated 115 in a list of the 500 most powerful computing systems in the world. It is the Tier-0 site for the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid and consists of 340 servers with two Intel Xeon 5160 (Woodcrest) processors and a total of 1360 cores.
Image courtesy of CERN

CERN’s computer cluster consists of 340 servers with two Intel Xeon 5160 (Woodcrest) processors and a total of 1360 cores.

The cluster recently made its first appearance on the prestigious TOP500 Supercomputing Sites, a sign that the processing power of the individual computing centers comprising grids is reaching levels comparable to top supercomputers.

The CERN cluster is one of only a few commodity clusters in the most recent TOP500 list and ranked a respectable 115th in the world—not bad for a bunch of PCs!

Significantly, CERN achieved this result using only about 20% of the computing power available in its computer centre, which in turn is only a fraction of the computing power available on the Enabling Grids for E-SciencE infrastructure of which CERN is part.

No special tuning of the CERN computers was required to achieve this result, even though the high-throughput requirements of grid computing are very different from the low-latency requirements of normal supercomputers.

According to the standard benchmark used for the TOP500, CERN’s cluster performed at just over 8.3 Teraflops with its 1360 cores. The fastest supercomputer, an IBM BlueGene machine at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, managed 280 Teraflops with 131072 cores, making it one of only three machines rating over 100 Teraflops. 

The TOP500 project releases a new TOP500 twice a year and was started in 1993 to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing.

This is the first time CERN has entered the TOP500 contest.

- Francois Grey, CERN



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