German university getting multi-petaflop Cray CS500 supercomputer

Paderborn University (Germany) has selected a Cray CS500 cluster accelerated by FPGAs as the first phase of its Noctua multi-petaflop supercomputer.

The new supercomputer will be comprised of 272 compute nodes, connected by Intel’s 100 Gbps Omni-Path fabric. Each node will be equipped with two 20-core Xeon Gold (Skylake) processors, yielding a system core count of 10,880. The system will also come with 720 terabytes of flash-accelerated Lustre storage, supplied by a Cray ClusterStor L300N system.

The most unusual feature of the system is the presence of 32 FPGAs, in this case Intel Stratix 10 devices. According to Paderborn’s press announcement, the selected FPGA will have 5,760 variable-precision DSP blocks, which implies this is either the Stratix 10 GX or SX 2800. The SX comes with an embedded quad-core ARM processor, while the GX series does not. In either case, the 2800 is the top-of-the-line Stratix 10 with regard to DSP floating point performance, providing 9.2 single precision teraflops.

This initial phase of Noctua is expected to deliver three times performance of the center’s current flagship system, OCuLUS, which is powered by a combination of Xeon, Xeon Phi, and NVIDIA GPUs, and delivers over 240 peak teraflops. The Cray machine is expected to go into production sometime in 2018. The second phase of Noctua is scheduled for 2020.

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