High-Performance Computing | News
Cambridge U Deploys UK's Fastest Academic-Based Supercomputer
The University of
Cambridge in England has deployed the fastest
academic-based supercomputer in the United Kingdom as part of the new
Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Open Architecture
Lab, a multinational
organization that is building the world's largest radio telescope.
The university built the new supercomputer, named Wilkes,
partnership with Dell,
NVIDIA, and Mellanox. The system consists of 128
Dell T620 servers and 256 NVIDIA
K20 GPUs (graphics processing units)
connected by 256 Mellanox Connect IB cards. The system has a
computational performance of 240 teraFLOPS (floating-point operations
per second) and ranked 166th on the November
2013 Top500 list of
The Wilkes system also has a performance of 3,631 megaFLOPS per watt
ranked second in the November
2013 Green500 list that ranks
supercomputers by energy efficiency. According to the university, this
extreme energy efficiency is the result of the very high performance
per watt provided by the NVIDIA K20 GPUs and the energy efficiency of
the Dell T620 servers.
The system uses Mellanox's FDR InfiniBand solution as the
The dual-rail network was built using Mellanox's Connect-IB adapter
cards, which provide throughput of 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) with
a message rate of 137 million messages per second. The system also uses
NVIDIA RDMA communication acceleration to significantly increase the
systems' parallel efficiency.
The Wilkes supercomputer is partly funded by the Science and
Facilities Council (STFC) to drive the Square Kilometer Array
system development in the SKA Open Architecture Lab. According to Gilad
Shainer, vice president of marketing at Mellanox, the supercomputer
will "enable fundamental advances in many areas of astrophysics and
The Cambridge High Performance Computing Service (HPCS) is home to
another supercomputer, named Darwin,
which ranked 234th on the November
2013 Top500 list of supercomputers.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.