Barcelona readies hybrid ARM-based supercomputer, uses NVIDIA GPUs for heavy lifting

NVIDIA has announced that it'll be providing CUDA GPUs for Barcelona's Supercomputing Center, with the facility looking to substantially boost its energy efficiency with these later this week at the SC11 Conference in Seattle. While the words "low power" and "energy efficiency" are a bit of a buzz kill in the high-octane high-MFLOP world of supercomputing, the BSC thinks it'll use between 15 to 30 times less power than current systems. Titled the Mont Blanc Project, it's aiming to multiply those energy savings by four to ten times by 2014. While other supercomputers eat their way though megawatts of the electric stuff, hopefully a drop in power demands won't affect this machine's supercomputing scores.

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Barcelona Supercomputing Center to Deploy World's First ARM-Based CPU/GPU Hybrid Supercomputer

Prototype System With Energy Efficient Tegra ARM CPUs and CUDA GPUs Advances Europe Toward Exascale Supercomputing

SEATTLE, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 11/14/2011 -- SC11 -- NVIDIA today announced that the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) is developing a new hybrid supercomputer that, for the first time, uses energy-efficient, low-power NVIDIA® Tegra™ ARM CPUs, together with high-performance NVIDIA® CUDA® GPUs.

BSC is planning to develop the first large scale system based on this technology, with a near term goal of demonstrating two to five times improvement in energy efficiency compared with today's most efficient systems. BSC is showing the system design publicly for the first time at this week's SC11 Conference, which runs Nov. 14-17 in Seattle, Wash., in exhibit booth #235.

BSC's ultimate research goal is to deliver exascale-level performance while using 15 to 30 times less power than current supercomputer architectures. This so-called EU Mont-Blanc Project will explore next-generation HPC architectures and develop a portfolio of exascale applications that run efficiently on these kinds of energy-efficient, embedded mobile technologies.

"In most current systems, CPUs alone consume the lion's share of the energy, often 40 percent or more," said Alex Ramirez, leader of the Mont-Blanc Project. "By comparison, the Mont-Blanc architecture will rely on energy-efficient compute accelerators and ARM processors used in embedded and mobile devices to achieve a four- to 10-times increase in energy-efficiency by 2014."

To support growing demand for similar ARM-based initiatives around the world, NVIDIA also announced plans to develop a new hardware and software development kit. The kit, with hardware developed by SECO, will feature a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM CPU accelerated by a discrete NVIDIA GPU. It is expected to be available in the first half of 2012, and will be supported by the NVIDIA CUDA parallel programming toolkit.

In recognition of its ground-breaking work leveraging NVIDIA GPUs and CUDA technology to drive education and research programs across a range of scientific disciplines, BSC was named a CUDA Center of Excellence by NVIDIA. The CUDA Center of Excellence program rewards and fosters collaboration with leading institutions that are at the forefront of parallel computing research.