Santa Clara (CA) – Intel is taking its supercomputer efforts to the next step and established a R&D partnership with Cray, which has been using mainly AMD’s processors for its supercomputers in the past few years. Expect Cray supercomputers to be unveiled in the 2010 to 2011 timeframe and yes, these systems are likely to integrate Intel’s upcoming Larrabee floating point accelerators, Cray’s CEO Peter Ungaro told TG Daily.
Intel’s Core architecture isn’t just a desktop or a mobile play; the technology took Intel all the way into supercomputers and enabled the manufacturer to improve its footprint among the fastest supercomputers in the world. And Intel isn’t slowing down in this space either and is getting more serious about positioning itself in the most prestigious and most lucrative segment of the processor market – high performance computing.
The company said it will be working closely with Cray to push its technology in the “biggest and baddest supercomputers.” Cray CEO Peter Ungaro told TG Daily that the collaboration does not stop at buying Intel processors, but is a strategic agreement that involves shared research and development that will “blur the lines between the system vendor and the processor supplier.”
The first Intel-based Cray supercomputer coming out of this partnership is expected to show up in the 2010 to 2011 timeframe, which means that not only will these systems run on post-Nehalem processors but they also are timed to potentially support Intel Larrabee cards. Ungaro mentioned that in fact Larrabee would be suited to complement these supercomputers. Larrabee, however, will not be the core processing technology, but will be used as a co-processing element to elevate the floating point performance of a system.
Officially, Intel and Cray said that the two companies “plan to explore future supercomputer component designs such as multi-core processing and advanced interconnects.” But there is an obvious side-effect of this partnership as well: Intel is now working with the most visible supercomputer builder and has everything it needs to develop a launch vehicle for Larrabee to show off the horsepower of this technology. Larrabee is likely to compete with Nvidia’s Tesla products, which will be used in an upcoming Bull supercomputer .
We have no doubt that some fascinating products will be unveiled as Intel and Nvidia are going head-to- head in the Champion’s League of computing.
But with Intel now on board, what will Cray do about its partnership with AMD? Ungaro said that no changes are expected and Cray is planning to continue using AMD products for current and future supercomputers. But it is just a supplier agreement and it certainly is a missed chance for AMD to get into a deeper agreement with Cray to position its own Firestream stream processor products.