What is a Supercomputer?
A supercomputer is defined simply as the
most powerful class of computers at any point in time. Supercomputers
are used to solve large and complex problems that are insurmountable
by smaller, less powerful computers. Since the pioneering Cray-1®
system arrived in 1976, supercomputers have made a significant
contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the quality of
human life. Problems of major economic, scientific and strategic
importance typically are addressed by supercomputers years before
becoming tractable on less-capable systems.
In conjunction with some of the world's most
creative scientific and engineering minds, these formidable tools
already have made automobiles safer and more fuel-efficient; located
new deposits of oil and gas; saved lives and property by predicting
severe storms; created new materials and life-saving drugs; powered
advances in electronics and visualization; safeguarded national
security; and unraveled mysteries ranging from protein-folding
mechanisms to the shape of the universe.
Capable supercomputers are in short supply.
Today's supercomputer market is replete with
"commodity clusters," products assembled from collections of servers
or PCs. Clusters are adept at tackling small problems and large
problems lacking complexity, but are inefficient at the most demanding,
consequential challenges - especially those of industry. Climate
research algorithms, for example, are unable to achieve high levels
of performance on these computers.
The primary "design points" for today's clusters
are server and PC markets, not supercomputing. Christopher Lazou,
a high-performance computing consultant, explains, "Using tens
of thousands of commodity chips may provide the capacity (peak
flop rates) but not the capability, because of lack of memory
bandwidth to a very large shared memory." Cray's product portfolio
addresses this issue with high-bandwidth offerings. source:
Cray Systems at Work
Cray systems provide powerful high performance solutions for the
world's most complex computational problems. The sustained performance
obtained from Cray supercomputers is used by researchers and computer
scientists spanning such varied disciplines as automotive manufacturing,
geological sciences, climate prediction, pharmaceutical development,
and national security.
Cray supercomputers are used worldwide in
research, academia, industry, and government.
Road to La-La Land - Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center researcher
Pei Tang uses the Cray T3E to probe the mysteries of anesthesia.
Modeling at the National Cancer Institute - Researchers from
around the world use NCI's Cray SV1 system to solve some of the
most difficult problems in computational biology -- studying protein
structure and function at the most detailed levels.
Power - George Richards, leader of the National Energy Technology
Laboratory's combustion dynamics team, takes on the challenge
of converting fuel to energy without creating pollutants by using
simulations on PSC's Cray T3E.
Thumb-Lock on AIDS - PSC's Marcela Madrid simulates an HIV
enzyme on the Cray T3E to help develop drugs that shut down HIV