Makers of TaihuLight Supercomputer Offer Commercial Version

One of the more unusual pieces of news at this year’s ISC High Performance conference was the announcement by the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi that it will be offering a cut-down version of the Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer for more mainstream HPC users.

TaihuLight is the reigning champ on the TOP500 list, delivering a whopping 93 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark. Besides being the number one system, it’s other big claim to fame is that it is constructed almost entirely from Chinese-made componentry. In particular, the system is powered by the 260-core ShenWei processor, known as the SW26010. Each of TaihuLight’s 40,960 ShenWei chips delivers three teraflops of peak performance.

The commercial version they announced at ISC is called the Sunway Micro and is based a dual-socket SW26010 server node. The system is aimed at a broad spectrum of industrial and research applications including “deep learning, oil & gas exploration, climate modeling, etc.”


Source: National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi


The two-processor design means each node delivers a very respectable six peak teraflops. Unlike the TaihuLight supercomputer, whose single-socket nodes were outfitted with a scant 32 GB of memory, the Sunway Micro can be equipped with 64 GB to 256 GB. That gives Micro buyers the option to have lot more local memory to feed these high-flying ShenWei chips. Each node is also equipped with 12 GB of local storage of undefined type and origin.

While talking with some of the folks at the Wuxi booth during the ISC exhibition, they revealed that the Micro nodes can be clustered together via a network based on InfiniBand technology, which apparently is similar, but not identical to the TaihuLight network implementaion. Given that these servers will be used in relatively small clusters, they didn’t have to develop a network for supercomputer-level scalability.

One of the most unusual aspects of the Sunway Micro is that it is being sold by the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi. That might seem like an odd thing for a supercomputing center to do, given its public mission. But since the center supplies the system software and developer toolset for these ShenWei-based machines, they basically act as system integrators for the commercial offering. As for the TaihiLight, the Micro was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).

Software support includes C/C++ and Fortran compilers for the ShenWie, as well as supporting runtime libraries. For parallel software development, Wuxi includes MPI, OpenACC and Athread implementations targeted to the ShenWei platform. An integrated development environment, with a debugger and performance monitor, are also included.

Besides selling the standard version of the Micro, the Wuxi center will also provide customized solutions. Pricing for the system was not made public.

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