Cray, Sun, IBM support AMD's Torrenza platform

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD today announced a first wave of companies that are "evaluating" the firm's "Torrenza" platform.

Torrenza will provide direct access to an AMD64-based processor via a Hypertransport link. According to AMD, the technology will allow third party hardware developer to integrate their own silicon into a spare socket on a Torrenza motherboard and combine their technology with an AMD Opteron or Athlon CPU. Conceivably, this socket could house co-processors - so-called "accelerators" - that focus on specialized applications such as physics, floating-point calculations, storage or graphics.

According to AMD, Cray, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, IBM and Sun Microsystems "have endorsed Torrenza as an open innovation initiative" and are currently "evaluating" the AMD technology. AMD believes that Torrenza will create an "open environment" that can reach "new levels of platform stability, upgradeability, flexibility, and capabilities" for server infrastructures.

One of the first projects that offer some clues on the benefits of Torrenza is "Roadrunner," a supercomputer that IBM will develop for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The system will combine 16,000 Opteron cores in x3755 servers with more than 16,000 Cell processors in Blade Center H units via Hypertransport links. Roadrunner will rely on Opteron CPUs to handle the supercomputer's IO and communication activity while the more complex computation will be done by Cell chips.

Cray, Sun and Fujitsu-Siemens did not have projects to show for. But representatives of the three firms mentioned in a press release very distinct motives to use Torrenza. Sun said that it currently tests the socket "for all platforms" and considers the technology as "an interesting value proposition for leveraging volume economics." Cray highlighted a potential to "leverage additional innovations to extend the realized performance" and Fujitsu-Siemens pointed to a new upgrade-capability that can "reduce the total cost of ownership" for servers.

AMD did not provide further information about the specifications and the likely availability of Torrenza-based systems.