Five years ago, Virginia Tech burst onto the high-performance computing scene using Apple Power Mac G5 computers to build System X, one of the fastest supercomputers of its time. Recently, Kirk Cameron and Srinidhi Varadarajan, two professors of computer science in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, architected a new supercomputer, called System G, that is twice as fast as its predecessor.
System G clocks in at an incredible 22.8 TFlops (or trillion operations per second). And keeping with tradition, though bid under a competitive contract, the machine consists of 325 Mac Pro computers, each with two 4-core 2.8 gigahertz (GHz) Intel Xeon processors and eight gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM).
Most high-performance computing systems research is conducted at small scales of 32, 64, or at most 128 nodes. Larger machines are typically used in production mode where experimental software is anathema to the end user focused on solving fundamental problems in computational science and engineering. System G was sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and the Center for High End Computing Systems (CHECS) to address the gap in scale between research and production machines. The purpose of System G is to provide a research platform for the development of high-performance software tools and applications with extreme efficiency at scale.
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