New FPGA-based Supercomputer in Scotland

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I got this piece of news by email from Tracy Peet at the EPCC:

The FPGA Supercomputer “Maxwell”, based on technology invented in Scotland and constructed by the FPGA High Performance Computing Alliance, is launched today. …More powerful than a conventional system of a similar size and using ten times less power, Maxwell is delivering new levels of computational performance for real-world industrial applications.

The system, named after James Clerk Maxwell (the Scottish mathematician of Maxwell’s Equations fame) uses Xilinx FPGAs and IBM host hardware:

The system consists of a 32-way IBM BladeCentre chassis hosting 64 Xilinx Virtex-4 FPGAs directly connected over high-speed RocketIO. Maxwell differs from many FPGA-based systems in that the FPGAs are directly connected over RocketIO. This allows codes to be parallelised across the collection of FPGAs and encourages algorithms to be written such that once the data and program are loaded onto the accelerator cards the processing occurs without data being transferred again across the PCI-X bus. This approach is delivering previously unattainable performance in a surprisingly small footprint with very low energy costs.

Maxwell is planned for a broad range of applications from medical imaging to military defense.

A short online movie explaining more about Maxwell and the FHPCA can be found here: Thanks, Tracy!