HP Moonshot servers with Calxeda and Intel Atom Chips could feasably scale to exaflop level using 30 MW of power

In April, 2013 Hewlett Packard announced the release of their Moonshot servers: small, low power servers based on compact server-on-a-chip technology from Calxeda, and Intel Atoms. These small devices can pack 3200 processors into a 42U rack that that draws less than 20kW.

HP can see making a special version for supercomputers that combines processors, memory, and photonic interfaces on a card, the combination of which makes a 10 TFLOPS device. Combining 256 of these nodes into a 42U rack yields 2.5 petaFLOPS of compute per rack, with an estimated 50-75kW of power required.

To make an exascale computer, one would design a building that could hold 400 of these superRacks. The combination provides around 100,000 nodes, and consumes a total of 25-30MW, well within the design limits of today’s hyperscale and larger enterprise computing centers.

Newer modular data centers could also cool this density of equipment. In addition, a modular data center design would allow new capacity to be brought in from time to time and would allow the existing modules to be adapted over time.

Calxeda has plans to deliver chips with lots of ARM cores and on-chip networking that can scale to 100,000 server nodes – and possibly even more – in a single fabric.

This year, HP has launched its “Gemini” Moonshot systems, which are the commercial products, not a development platform. Being a commercial product, the Moonshot chassis will have a variety of Atom, Xeon, Opteron, and ARM processors as well as GPU, FPGA, and DSP accelerators. A combination ARM-DSP processor called KeyStone-II from Texas Instruments was sighted in the field at the International Supercomputing event in June, in fact, and so was a Calxeda node with four independent sockets. It was not clear if that Calxeda Moonshot card we saw at ISC 2013 was packing the Midway processor, but it could have been.

HP calls the server nodes inside the Moonshot 1500 enclosure “cartridges,” and it can put 45 such nodes into that enclosure, which is 4.3 rack units high. Assuming you use a rack that is a little taller than standard, you can in theory get 450 cartridges into a single rack, and with the four-node cartridges, that comes to 1,800 nodes in a rack. That is a lot of nodes.

8 page HP Moonshot white paper

SOURCES : HP, Calxeda, Enterprise Tech, youtube, datacenter dynamics

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