[Beowulf] Has anyone actually seen/used a cell system?

Craig Tierney ctierney at hypermall.net
Wed Sep 20 14:29:26 PDT 2006

Mark Hahn wrote:
>> Can anyone point me to a url, or tell me what their
>> experience is with this technology?  Is it as fast as
>> it's purported to be?
> I haven't come anywhere near a Cell, but then again, I'm not sure I'd 
> want to.  14.6 Gflops (64b, and assuming the full 8 SPE's) isn't bad, 
> but then again, a 3 GHz Core2 dual-core is 24 Gflops, and almost 
> certainly a lot more accessible, shipping now, runs linux, supported by 
> compilers and goto-blas, etc.

Not everyone needs double precision.  And if you do, I would wait
until the next generation Cell processor.  My guess is that we will
see it in the near future.  The key to winning the Roadrunner proposal 
was to get HPL to run at over 1 PF (science be damned).  The Cell
isn't going to do that unless either 1) IBM will release a version
that does DP fast or 2) Jack Dongarra is going to accept results for
the Top500 list that perform the double precision correction to single
precision results (see http://www.hpcwire.com/hpc/692906.html for
a discussion).  The Opteron system being delivered could do the 
correction for this technique.


> if you could readily get a 8-16x PCIE card with 2 or more Cell chips and 
> a bunch of ~50 GB/s local memory, for cheap, it could be quite something.
>> Apparently RedHat is developing
>> EL 4.3 to run on the system?
> to an OS, it's basically a kinda low-end PPC chip with 8 very weird FP 
> coprocessors, the latter not relevant to the OS...
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