RealTime IT News

Intel Forges Advanced Computing Program

Looking to retain its supercomputing bragging rights, Intel Monday launched its Advanced Computing Program (ACP), a $36 million investment in future high-performance computing (HPC) designs and software.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said it is using the R&D money to tack on more engineering resources designed to bolster next generation mainframes and clusters, the kind you usually see on the biannual supercomputer TOP500 list.

Since the list was updated Monday, Intel scored the most of any other chipmaker including RISC-based systems with a total of 189 systems overall on the list. Intel has either its Itanium or Xeon processors in five of the Top 15 systems on the celebrated list.

"We are ecstatic about the acceptance of Intel's standards-based approach," Intel senior vice president Mike Fister said in a statement. "Our focus on this market segment and its future will benefit from our investment and work with key academia, government and industry advocates on the Advanced Computing Program effort."

That three-year program will bring scientists from Intel together with leaders in the high-performance computing community to develop and prototype advanced computing technologies. The No. 1 chipmaker said these technologies include new architectures, advanced system software, and software tools, languages, and libraries. Ultimately the ACP technologies will be deployed to the industry via next-generation "off-the-shelf" computing building blocks, such as the Intel Xeon, Intel Itanium 2, and Intel Pentium 4 processors, along with ACP system recommendations.

"The Advanced Computing Program is a response to the need for more balanced high performance systems that have greater capabilities and better programming environments for end users," said Justin Rattner, Intel senior fellow and director of the Intel Systems Technology Lab. "Intel is excited to help deliver a qualitative change in the way scientists and researchers will soon be able to do their work. We also intend to work with the industry to make sure that innovations developed at the high-end of computing will eventually benefit all computer users."

Other prominent Intel based systems on the TOP500 list include the fourth-ranked system at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) using 2,500 Intel Xeon processors, and the fifth-ranked system at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory using 1,936 Intel Itanium 2 processors. In addition, the seventh- and 10th-ranked systems on the list are at the University of California at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and use 2,304 and 1,920 Intel Xeon processors respectively. The 14th-ranked system at the Chinese Academy of Science uses 1,024 Intel Itanium 2 processors.

In a related announcement yesterday, Intel and LLNL disclosed that they will deploy a supercomputer in January that will use nearly 4,000 Intel Itanium 2 processors and is expected to be a top-ranked system included in the next list to be issued in June.

Also as part of its HPC push, Intel demonstrated a cluster setup that delivers over one teraflop of computing power using industry standard building blocks including InfiniBand and PCI Express. The 192-node configuration, presented at the Supercomputing 2003 show in Phoenix, was assembled in less than two days on the show floor. Historically, teraflop configurations have taken months to configure and have not been possible to demonstrate in a show environment.