Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Larrabee 3 rumor

The list of things that are bigger in Texas just got, err, bigger.  Get out of the way Ranger, here comes a Stampede!  No longer content with "just" half a petaflop, University of Texas has upped the ante unveiling their plans for a 10 Petaflop supercomputer.  Interestingly, one fifth of the GFlops (an often misleading benchmark, but how could that matter?) will be provided by the dual processors (8C16T each) powering each server, while the other 80% will be provided by Knight's Corner (aka Larrabee 3) accelerator cards.  Until now, a select few researchers have had access to the predecessor of LRB3, known as Knight's Ferry (aka Larrabee 2).  Knight's Ferry is interesting in that it supports only single precision floating point, which is typical of graphics processors but atypical of the new GPGPU cards sold by Nvidia with which it will compete.

Love him or hate him, Charlie over at semiaccurate is at it again with a very interesting tidbit.  LRB3 is rumored to be binary incompatible with LRB2 (if you have a better reference than Charlie, please send it to me).  When not hating on Nvidia Charlie tends to be more accurate than "semi" would suggest, so this is an interesting development (well... he's also pretty accurate when hating, heh).  In the ensuing discussion, Exophase makes a good point that binary compatibility doesn't really matter for highly parallel software.  I tend to agree with this, since discussions between Cognitive Electronics and many different developers has also indicated that to be true.

Won't it be great when we can access a variety of different architectures in the cloud?  Benchmarking for pennies.  Can't wait!

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