Supercomputers. Choosing a dollfie laptop.

Sat 2011/02/26 11:51 JST
TN, USA · Programmer ·

BPS (which we already introduced here) finally found time to do a visit to ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Supercomputer lab that was arranged at the SuperComputing 2010 conference.
So here's a bit of pictures from the event.


The greetings were pretty warm.


On the main supercomputing floor. Behind is University of Tennessee system named Kraken (their SC09 motto was "My computer can eat your computer".)

Currently occupies #8 slot on top10 of fastest supercomputers in the world. Built on Cray XT5 architecture, performance is only 1.17 petaflops (1.7 quadrillions (thousands of trillions) operations per second).
Behind this row you can see are 3 more rows. 143 terabytes of system memory.


This is Jaguar, sitting just behind Kraken which is a pity since I really like the front graphics.Also a Cray XT5, but more then 2x bigger. This is ORNL machine. Used to be fastest supercomputer in 2009, but for 2010 it was surpassed by a Chinese supercomputer in Tianjin (note to self, need to visit there too) and so for now it is a #2 fastest supercomputer (but the arms race is still going on).
Performance is 2.3 petaflops. System memory is 300Tb. 33,376 six-core AMD Opteron CPUs.


Rows of supercomputing cabinets. These are form Jaguar and Kraken.
They consume over 10 megawatts of power alone not counting other gear on the floor.


This is the beginning of new Cray XT6 based supercomputer Gaea. This one is not going to be very big, though.


To the right is a tiny IBM BlueGene/P machine. They always go with this tilted design because of some sort of airflow benefits.
To the left is a front row of disk arrays. Over 10 petabytes (thousand terabytes) of accessible disk storage in there. A perfect place for various collections ;)


A power supply for a row of storage. Those cabinets on the background are full of harddrives. Very warm in those rows.


Operator console on the supercomputing floor - very uncomfortable place to work. Very-very noisy.
If you don't wear ear plugs, you'd suffer irreparable hearing damage after 30 minutes or so.


Operator room, much better place to work at. Nice and quiet. And you still see the supercomputer glory through a big window.


BPS of course has his own laptop. And it runs Linux!

I spent some time looking for a suitable SD laptop. Originally Toshiba Libretto 50CT seemed like a good fit, but turned out too big.
HP L100X is smaller but costs in hundred of dollars for some strange reason.

And finally I have found zipit wireless z2 "messenger". Just a perfectly sized mini laptop. It's running Linux under the hood and you can actually expose it on the screen if you so wish.
Often retails on EBay for $15.
You can even play Doom and Quake on it's screen if you are into this sort of thing.

Full report is in our blog.


For comparison. This is Toshiba Libretto 50CT, a very cool Pentium laptop from last century. Sports a 6" screen.
Since it's a bit big, BPS only uses it at home and prefers the smaller one on the go.