Dan Olds at The Register posted an interesting article yesterday regarding some recent funding activity coming from the Department of Energy. According to the article, the DoE is funding a company called SeaMicro to build an Atom-based supercomputer. What does $9.3million in funding buy the DoE? The eventual system will be composed of 512 Atom processor [no word on whether a processor refers to a 'socket' or a 'core'], 1 petabyte of “storage”; all for under $100,000.
This idea is not entirely new. Remember back to SC08 when SGI mysteriously announced their molecule concept computer based on Intel Atom technology. The design was quite interesting, packing up to 10,000 Atom cores into a single rack. For embarrassingly parallel work, such as certain bioinformatics workloads, this architecture might work quite well.
Overall, this technology is very interesting. The power efficiency of the Atom makes for interesting HPC soup. I’m terribly interested to see what the processor interconnect and memory subsystem look like in relation to “traditional” x86 distributed memory systems. InsideHPC would love the opportunity to feature an overview from anyone at SeaMicro [wink wink, nod nod].
In the mean time, you can read Dan Olds’ coverage here.