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Cray designs and builds new 1,500-core supercomputer

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October 16, 2014

Cray has unveiled its new Urika-XA 1500 core supercomputer designed specifically for enterprise customers with complex math-solving problems.

Said to be a single-platform entity and consolidating a wide range of analytics workloads previously needing separate systems, its new design has been optimized for compute and memory-intensive and latency-sensitive workloads.

To be usre, Cray’s Urika line of super computers has been around for four years already and is an appliance-like product for analyzing big data, essentially chewing through numbers looking for relationships between various elements.

It was introduced by Cray’s Yarc Data division and called a graph analytics appliance in mid-2010.

Now we have Urika-XA as a turnkey, scale-out and analytics appliance. Cray says it has some very hot hardware when it comes to the Urika XA line-- over 1,500 cores, 6 TB of DRAM, 38 TB of SSD flash and 120 TB of disk storage.

The original Urika system is now called the Urika-GD and positioned for graph-based analytics. The XA product is for extreme analytics (hence XA) and described as a pre-integrated, open platform for high-performance big data analytics.

Think of it crudely as a go-faster Urika-GD without the graph stuff. Urika-XA has a flagship first customer in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab.

The analysis people there will use it in climate control science, materials science and various healthcare areas.

An obvious comparison is with DDN’s GS-7K appliance, which uses GPFS instead of Lustre for its parallel file system work and can link to an object storage backend.

Red Hat has a scale-out Gluster-using Open Storage Server if you’re enamored with the Gluster file system and want to build your own system. It has Hadoop file system plug-in as well.

IBM’s GPFS-based Elastic Storage Server may also be on the competitive comparison list for enterprise fast-access big data analytics work.

The Cray marketing people says the new supercomputer is coming from land with battle-hardened technology. Additionally, data-driven journalism means analyzing large data sets and building a news story on the results.

Any media organization that would acquire a packaged supercomputer appliance for this has got very deep pockets and a degree of faith that would impress a few.

Cray is basically telling us to use its supercomputer-derived big data technology because you’ll get the Eureka moments faster and more often.

Of course, whether you will or not depends on your data scientists asking the right questions. Whatever they ask though, they’ll probably get their answers quicker with this Urika-XA supercomp.

Cray will happily sell you a multi-rack configuration system and Urika-XA will be available in December 2014.

Source: Cray.

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