Electronic Design

Japanese Observatory Picks Up Cray Supercomputer

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) has selected Cray Inc.'s XT4 system to study the origin of the solar system and star formation. The Cray XT4 system will enable NAOJ scientists to perform large numerical experiments that attempt to answer questions like the origin of various galaxies, the evolution of the solar system and dimensions of massive black holes, according to Cray Japan president Mamoru Nakano. "The huge time and spatial scales associated with astronomical phenomena make laboratory experiments impossible," said Jun Makino, Director of NAOJ's Center for Computational Astrophysics (CfCA), where the computer will be housed. "Computer simulations allow us to create virtual universes, which help us to understand the early stages and evolution of the universe and the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars, black holes and planets." The Cray XT4 system provides more than 27 teraflops of computational capability. It is a massively parallel processor (MPP) system that balances performance among processors, memory, interconnect and IO. Both hardware and software are designed to scale to more than 120,000 processor cores and over one petaflops of peak performance, according to a Cray release. The system's scalable processing element uses x86 64-bit AMD Opteron processors that employ HyperTransport technology to increase bandwidth and reduce latency. Other research entities that use the Cray XT4 system include the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, CSC Finland, Engineer Research and Development Center for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.K.'s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for the High-End Computing Terascale Resource (HECToR) national academic service.

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