Cray has introduced a family of supercomputers based on the Linux operating system.

Cray is not the first company to introduce Linux on a supercomputer. Indeed, it first introduced a Linux supercomputer called Red Storm back in 2004. However the announcement is significant, as it the first time that Cray has introduced a family of supercomputers rather than stand-alone machines.

Cray calls the XT5 family “the world’s most scalable Linux-based supercomputer.” The XT5 massively parallel processor (MPP) system is based on Cray’s existing XT line and the supercomputer maker claims that the new compute blade “quadruples local memory capacity, doubles processor density and improves energy efficiency for a significant reduction in total cost of ownership for customers.”

In addition to supporting the current Cray XT4 compute blades, a new eight-socket Cray XT5 compute blade supports the dual-core and new Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors. Each dual-socket node supports up to 32GB of locally addressable memory which can be accessed at up to 25.6Gbit/s. Using a Cray SeaStar2+ interconnect, the entire system is designed to scale and avoid performance losses associated with communication bottlenecks, memory access delays and operating system jitter.

In a nod towards the need to reduce energy usage and control operating costs, the Cray XT5 family employs vertical cooling, that takes cold air from the floor with a single, high-efficiency turbine fan and cools the processors on the Cray XT5 blades. The compute blades are designed for optimal airflow with position-dependent, custom-designed heat sinks. A single cabinet can support very high density CPU configurations of 192 processor sockets or 768 CPU cores.

The Cray XT5 has been designed to be easily upgradeable and expandable, as existing customers can upgrade to the Cray XT5 system from the Cray XT3 or Cray XT4 systems, and/or add on to their existing Cray XT systems. Cray XT5 cabinets can be configured with Cray XT4 compute blades or with the new high density Cray XT5 compute blades.

Cray says the XT5 family also includes the industry’s first integrated hybrid supercomputer, the Cray XT5h system, in recognition that “no single architecture is ideally suited for all types of applications.”

The hybrid has the Cray XT5 system as its foundation, but it integrates multiple processor architectures with a complete software development environment into a single system supporting diverse workflows.

“The stalling out of standard microprocessor speeds is starting to spark a rebirth in the HPC industry toward computers that augment microprocessors with other processor types including vector processors, GPUs, accelerators and FPGAs,” said Earl Joseph, IDC program vice president, Technical Computing Systems. “Cray is developing new computer architectures to address this growing requirement with its new hybrid supercomputer.”