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AMD & Cray News - 02/14/05
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Cray XD1 Supercomputer Outscores Competition in HPC Challenge Benchmark Tests;
Benchmarks Assess Real-World Performance in Several Key Aspects of Supercomputing


Global supercomputer leader Cray Inc (Nasdaq:CRAY) reported that recent High Performance Computing (HPC) Challenge benchmark tests show that the Cray XD1
Opteron/Linux-based supercomputer outperforms systems of similar size and price. The Cray XD1 system, which is being demonstrated at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Boston this week, scored first in one of the eight HPC Challenge performance categories and second in two others, resulting in the highest rating overall in its class and some of the best scores among all the systems tested regardless of size and price.

"These benchmarks, based on application-oriented rather than theoretical computing models, demonstrate that the Cray XD1 supercomputer provides impressive HPC performance that is usually found only in larger and more expensive systems," said Peter Ungaro, Cray senior vice president for sales, marketing and service. "To suit the economics of the HPC mid-market segment, the system delivers this performance at price points starting at under US$100,000 list."

As of February 11, 2005 the Cray XD1 supercomputer surpassed all the other HPC systems tested in random-ring latency, performing more than 3 times faster than the leading Itanium system on this important indicator of real-world application performance that measures latency and bandwidth in small-message codes. In the global parallel matrix transpose (PTRANS) benchmark test, the Cray XD1 system demonstrated a better than fivefold performance increase over Xeon/Infiniband clusters and a 40 percent increase over the SGI Altix system, which was configured with twice as many processors. In the global Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) test, the Cray XD1 system exceeded the performance of a comparably sized IBM p655 with Federation switch by a factor of 8.4, and bettered the SGI Altix by 20 percent.

The company's high-end system, the Cray X1 supercomputer, was the top performer on two important HPC Challenge tests: the G-TRANS benchmark, which measures simultaneous communications between processors while attacking a realistic problem; and the G-HPL test, which assesses the efficiency of the Message Passing Interface (MPI). Specifically designed to meet high-end computational needs, the Cray X1 system provides exceptional memory bandwidth, low-latency interconnections and vector-processing capabilities.

Complete HPC Challenge results for all listed systems are available
here (The Cray XD1 system is identified as "Cray AMD Opteron" in the table.)

Going Beyond Traditional Linpack Benchmarks

Developed by Jack Dongarra and Piotr Luszczek of the University of Tennessee, with collaborators from the U.S. and Europe, the HPC Challenge benchmark suite debuted in 2003 under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and DARPA. The tests are designed to assess those aspects of supercomputing that have the greatest effect on performance under real-world conditions. The HPC Challenge suite includes Linpack, a single test of processor performance that is the basis for the semi-annual TOP500 supercomputer ranking. The suite substantially augments the Linpack measurement with seven more tests. Additional test are expected to be added in the future.

"Linpack is useful, but no single test can accurately reflect the overall performance of HPC systems," according to Dongarra. "The HPC Challenge benchmark suite stresses not only the processors, but the memory system and the interconnect. It is a better indicator of how an HPC system will perform across a spectrum of real-world applications."

"Because the HPC Challenge benchmark tests are multifaceted, they provide a more comprehensive insight into the performance of today's high-performance computing systems and are a major improvement over traditional single-point benchmarks in predicting how HPC systems will perform on many applications," said Paul Muzio, director of support infrastructure at the U.S. Army's High Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC).

About the Cray XD1 Supercomputer

The Cray XD1 supercomputer features direct connect processor (DCP) architecture, which removes PCI bottlenecks and memory contention to deliver superior sustained performance. According to the HPC Challenge benchmarks, the Cray XD1 system has the lowest latency of any comparable HPC system, with MPI latency of 1.8 microseconds and random ring latency of 1.3 microseconds.

Tests conducted by the
Ohio Supercomputer Center show that the Cray XD1 system ships messages with four times lower MPI latency than common cluster interconnects such as Infiniband and Quadrics, and 30 times lower than Gigabit Ethernet employed in lowest-cost clusters. The Cray XD1 interconnect delivers twice the bandwidth of 4X Infiniband for messages up to 1 KB and 60 percent higher throughput for very large messages.

The Cray XD1
Opteron/Linux system runs x86 32/64 bit codes. Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are available to accelerate applications, and the Active Manager subsystem provides single-system command and control and high-availability features. The system can nearly double its performance with AMD Opteron dual-core processors when they become available later this year.

A 3VU (5.25") chassis provides 12 compute processors, 58 peak gigaflops, 96 GB/second aggregate switching capacity, 1.8-microsecond MPI interprocessor latency, 84 GB maximum memory and 1.5 TB maximum disk storage. A 12-chassis rack provides 144 compute processors, 691 peak gigaflops, 1TB/second aggregate switching capacity, 2 microsecond MPI interprocessor latency, 922 GB/second aggregate memory bandwidth, 1 TB maximum memory and 18 TB maximum disk storage.

About Cray Inc.

The world's leading supercomputer company, Cray Inc. pioneered high-performance computing with the introduction of the Cray-1 in 1976. The only company dedicated to meeting the specific needs of HPC users, Cray designs and manufactures supercomputers used by government, industry and academia worldwide for applications ranging from scientific research to product design, testing to manufacturing. Cray's diverse product portfolio delivers superior performance, scalability and reliability to the entire HPC market, from the high-end capability user to the department workgroup.

Safe Harbor Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements. There are certain factors that could cause Cray's execution plans to differ materially from those anticipated by the statements above. These include the successful porting of application programs to Cray systems and general economic and market conditions. For a discussion of these and other risks, see "Factors That Could Affect Future Results" in Cray's most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC.

Cray is a registered trademark, and Cray XD1 is a trademark, of Cray Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


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