Intel Unveils Supercomputer Architecture To Break ExaFLOP Barrier

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Intel on Monday introduced a new supercomputing architecture it said will lead to the development of a new generation of supercomputers which it expects to break the ExaFLOP-per-second level by 2020.

Intel's new Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture is slated to use a high degree of parallelism in smaller, lower power, and single-threaded-performance Intel processor cores to increase the performance of highly parallel applications.

Intel said that few highly parallel applications are currently used, but are expected to become more commonplace in such areas as climate change simulations, genetic analysis, investment portfolio risk management, or energy research.

Intel introduced Intel MIC at the International Supercomputing Conference being held this week in Hamburg, Germany.

Developers of applications for supercomputers will be able to use existing programming tools and methods when developing for the Intel MIC architecture, Intel said. This includes using standard C, C++, and FORTRAN source code. Intel also said that program source code written for Intel MIC architecture-based supercomputers will also be able to be compiled and run on standard Intel Xeon processors.

Because of the high degree of parallelism in applications that can take advantage of Intel MIC, Intel expects supercomputers based on the architecture to break the ExaFLOP/second barrier by 2020. An ExaFLOP is one quintillion computer operations per second.

The fastest supercomputer in the world, the Fujitsu "K" computer, was this week unveiled with a performance of 8.2 petaflops, or 8.2 quadrillion operations per second, according to The New York Times,.

Intel has established relations with three European labs to develop high-performance computing and other applications for the Intel MIC architecture and to research how to handle the energy efficiency requirements of ExaFLOP-scale computers.

The company also said it is shipping Intel MIC software development platforms code-named Knights Ferry to development partners, and is planning to shortly release Knights Corner, a new series of processors based on its 22-nanometer technology. Partners working on developing servers and workstations based on Knights Corner include SGI, Dell, HP, IBM, Colfax, and Supermicro.

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