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Global Supercomputing Capacity Creeps Up as Petascale Systems Blanket Top 100

FRANKFURT, Germany; BERKELEY, Calif.; and KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— The 48th edition of the TOP500 list saw China and United States pacing each other for supercomputing supremacy. Both nations now claim 171 systems apiece in the latest rankings, accounting for two-thirds of the list. However, China has maintained its dominance at the top of the list with the same number 1 and 2 systems from six months ago: Sunway TaihuLight, at 93 petaflops, and Tianhe-2, at 34 petaflops. This latest edition of the TOP500 was announced Monday, November 14, at the SC16 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mellanox Unveils HDR InfiniBand Lineup

The rollout of 200 Gbps networking began in earnest this week with Mellanox’s unveiling of its initial HDR InfiniBand portfolio of Quantum switches, ConnectX-6 adapters, and LinkX cables. Although none of the products will be available until 2017, the imminent move to 200 Gbps is set to leapfrog the competition, in particular, Intel, with its current 100 Gbps Omni-Path technology.

Good Times for FPGA Enthusiasts

The prospect of FPGA-powered supercomputing has never looked brighter. The availability of more performant chips, the maturation of the OpenCL toolchain, the acquisition of Altera by Intel, and the world’s largest deployment of FPGAs in the datacenter by Microsoft, suggest that reconfigurable computing may finally fulfill its promise as a major technology for high performance computing.

Improving Supercomputing Accuracy by Sacrificing Precision

In what seems paradoxical, a group of computer scientists have demonstrated that reducing the mathematical precision in a supercomputing computation can actually lead to more accurate solutions.  The premise of the technique is to apply the energy savings reaped from lower precision calculations toward additional computation that will improve the quality of the results.

UK Startup Takes On GPUs with Neural Network Accelerator

AI startup Graphcore has emerged from stealth mode with the announcement of $30 million in initial Series A funding. The Bristol, UK-based company will use the cash infusion to complete development of its Intelligent Processing Unit (IPU), a custom-built chip aimed at machine learning workloads. The funding was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH and Samsung Catalyst Fund; also joining were Amadeus Capital Partners, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit plc, Foundation Capital and Pitango Venture Capital.

NVDIMMs Poised to Take on Bigger Role in Servers

The prospect of non-volatile DIMMs as an additional memory tier in the server is getting a lot more attention these days. The advent of novel memory technologies like 3D XPoint, resistive RAM/memristors, and NAND-based memory modules, in conjunction with market forces that are demanding much higher memory capacities, lower power usage, and in some cases, memory persistence, are conspiring to drive a new generation of NVDIMM products to market.

Looking to Build AI Credibility, Fujitsu Explores Novel Technologies

IT giant Fujitsu has been developing a series of in-house technologies aimed at the burgeoning market of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Although the company has made less fanfare of its ambitions in this regard than companies like IBM, Google and Microsoft, the Japanese multinational seems intent on expanding its datacenter business into this new high-value segment.

White House Ponders the Ramifications of AI

The commercialization of artificial intelligence over the last several years is now getting the attention of governments, which are starting to think about the policy implications presented by these new technologies. A recent report published by the White House attempts to address the challenges presented by AI, but skirts one very important issue.

Tech Companies Sign On to New Standard for High Performance Server Bus

IBM has unveiled OpenCAPI, an open-standard, high-speed bus interface for connecting devices in servers. The announcement coincides with the formation of a consortium of the same name that will manage the new standard, and which initially includes tech heavyweights Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Dell EMC, NVIDIA, Mellanox, Micron, Xilinx, and Google. The first OpenCAPI-supported devices and servers are expected to show up in 2017.

Intel Expands Its Comfort Zone with New ARM-Powered FPGAs for Datacenters

Intel announced it is sampling its Stratix 10 FPGAs, the latest family of field programmable gate arrays that are designed to accelerate a number of datacenter workloads. The new devices, which Intel is calling “the most significant FPGA innovations in over a decade,” offer advanced features like embedded 64-bit ARM processors, second-generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2), and DSP blocks.