The worlds first flash-based supercomputer will be switched on at the San Diego Supercomputer Center in January.
Aptly named “Gordon”, the supercomputer will have the capability to process large data-intensive problems about 10 times faster than other supercomputers. With four petabytes of disk storage, 300 terabytes of flash memory and over 280 teraflops of compute power, Gordon is among the top 50 fastest supercomputers in the world.
It is also now top in terms of how many I/O (input/output) operations it can do per second, which is a critical measure for data-intensive computing. In recent validation tests, Gordon achieved 36 million IOPS (input/output operations per second), smashing the previous record of just 4.2 million IOPS.
In real terms, that means it could download 220 full length HD movies per second, or consume the entire catalogue of about 100,000 Netflix movies – while still having room for another 200,000 titles. Of course, Gordon will not be used for watching films, but for helping researchers tackle data-intensive challenges, such as mapping genomes for personalised medicine.
According to SDSC, Gordon will have the ability to hold 100,000 entire human genomes in its flash memory system. “I don’t think there are 100,000 human genomes yet, which gives you a sense how deep we are going with this new technology,” said SDSC director Michael Norman.
Three years ago, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) invested $20 million (£13m) in the development of Gordon. The supercomputer will serve UC San Diego and UC researchers as well as be available for use by industry and government agencies, and will also serve as a national computing resource as part of the NSF’s new XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) programme.
“Every year we double the amount of information being generated, and we now are being overwhelmed by the data we are able to produce with our own computers,” said Norman. “So it stands to reason that we needed a new kind of computer.”
Cancer Research UK recently announced it was using Platform Computing's LSF (Load Sharing Facility) software to improve cluster efficiency and reduce IT costs on the CRI genome research.
By integrating Platform LSF with a new advanced genetic sequencing platform, the institute has already gained greater insight into genetic cancer mutations that will lead to scientific breakthroughs in the areas of cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention, said Cancer Research.