Numerical Simulation on the SiCortex Supercomputer Platform: a Preliminary Evaluation
Most cluster systems used today for high-performance scientific computing are built from off-the-shelf standard components placed in racks. SiCortex has chosen a different strategy and offers a line of integrated cluster machines based on a customized low-frequency MIPS multicore processor and a specialized network fabric.
We investigate the potential of the SiCortex platform for numerical simulation by analyzing the performance of a set of elementary benchmarks and two fluid dynamics applications executed on the SC072 and the SC5832 systems. The elementary benchmarks quantify the performance in terms of computation rate, memory bandwidth and communication latency. The fluid dynamics applications provide insight into how well existing scientific code performs on the system. The results are compared to those obtained on a commodity cluster with Intel Xeon cores and Infiniband interconnect. The focus of the evaluation is computational performance, but we also consider the energy consumption for all three machines.
Our results indicate that while the SiCortex systems might be well suitable for applications that can be parallelized to a very fine level, they are outperformed by commodity clusters when this is not the case. However, an analysis of the CFD applications shows that the SiCortex systems makes it possible to significantly reduce the energy consumption compared to a commodity cluster.
The Engineering Mathematics and Computing Lab (EMCL), directed by Prof. Dr. Vincent Heuveline, is a research group at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (IWR).
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