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Peakstream software taps into GPU for supercomputing power

Darren Murph

While building a supercomputer has been whittled down to a science, Peakstream has developed a suite of applications that look towards those speedy PCI Express slots -- not the CPU socket -- for an extra boost of power. The company boldly states that a supercomputer can be created by harnessing the power of "common CPUs combined with the resources of modern graphics cards" to increase performance by "20x." This extreme form of load balancing exploits the tremendous potential housed in today's GPUs in order to schedule workloads, offload tasks onto the optimal processor(s), and manage calculations to minimize the queue of tasks to be completed. Granted, the biggest boon of a graphics processor is the extraordinary floating-point performance; for instance, ATi's X1950 XTX pumps out 750 GFLOPS in dual-graphics mode, while it'd take 31 Intel Xeon 5100 CPUs to crank out those same figures -- thus Peakstream feels that mathematical and computational applications (sorry, Doom fans) are best suited for its software. While having your own personal supercomputer churning those Engadget Folding@home cycles would be mighty impressive, the average joe isn't apt to drop $2,000 (per node) for Peakstream's suite, but maybe this explains the real intentions behind those 200 watt, energy sucking, externally-housed graphics cards after all.

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