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Supercomputing Technology

Iran Claims Two New Supercomputers 110

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-thing-we-don't-export-crypto dept.
dcblogs writes "Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced development of two supercomputers Wednesday. Iranian government news media published a photo spread of one the systems it claims is capable of 89 teraflops, which is far short of the petascale systems in the US and China. There's no independent verification of Iran's claim. But after the Stuxnet attack, Iran may be trying for an IT comeback via supercomputing or just trying to show it is in control as regional unrest spreads. Iran says the new systems will make the global Top 500 supercomputing listing, but it hasn't submitted a Linpack benchmark to the list organizers."
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Iran Claims Two New Supercomputers

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  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:10AM (#35300040) Journal

    Iran has a halfway decent computer industry, they even make computer games:

    http://www.questofpersia.com/main/index.html [questofpersia.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That game looks cool. Unfortunately, I am way too afraid of my government linking me to "terrorism" for buying it.

    • do you think iranian games have a hot coffee mod?

      and if they do, is the nominally exciting part the nudity and sex, or the minilevel where you get to throw stones at the adulterous apostates until they are dead?

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        do you think iranian games have a hot coffee mod?

        and if they do, is the nominally exciting part the nudity and sex, or the minilevel where you get to throw stones at the adulterous apostates until they are dead?

        Yes, they have a donut holder on the dash, and they achieve a petro-flop.

        --

        I thought you would never ask.

    • Iran has a halfway decent computer industry, they even make well hidden trojan horses:

      http://www.questofpersia.com/main/index.html [questofpersia.com]

      Fixed that for ya

    • Looks interesting, I'll have to download the trailers when I get home.

      • My favorite trailer is the one for "End of the Innocence" (about the Iran/Iraq War). It's entertainingly odd...

  • by v1 (525388) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:11AM (#35300050) Homepage Journal

    one the systems it claims is capable of 89 teraflops, which is far short of the petascale systems in the U.S. and China

    Because the FIRST place you think of when you hear "supercomputer" is, of course, Iran.

    but it hasn't submitted a Linpack benchmark to the list organizers.

    A simple oversight I'm sure. But then we have a state controlled media vs a non state-controlled Linpack so...

    • by jschmitz (607083)
      I don't disagree with you in the least - however linpack numbers mean little - you can string a shitload of iphones together and get good linpack numbers that said their claim is far short of being impressive anyways - my first thought looking at the pics is those people look like a total pain in the ass wtf are they all doing anyways?? I work in an HPC environment and we have a third of those people running global clusters - jackasses
  • Ok Pretty Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ancantus (1926920) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:12AM (#35300070) Homepage Journal

    Ok so I can understand why they would want to have a supercomputer or 2. They must have a lot of computational work being done (building nuclear weapons is pretty technically demanding stuff, so I have heard). But of all the reasons to have a supercomputer the summary states.

    But after the Stuxnet attack, Iran may be trying for an IT comeback via supercomputing

    Comeback via supercomputing? What does that even mean?

    • They may be trying to bring back dumb terminals? It's the future of computing I guess.

      Welcome to AyatollahNet, please login using your citizen #.

      • That's way better than PCs. Now Israel will only need to 0wn one computer, and they are done.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Not dumb terminals thin clients using windows terminal server. From the hardware they have there it looks like they are trying to set up a 100 terminal thin client farm with windows, but that depends on the ram they have in each machine... If it's not 16 gigs then they will only support 20 terminals.

      • What do you think that cloud computing is and why they hope to see it flourish? You plug-in your 100$ interface directly to the net and connect to giant supra computers giving you access to data you can legally own.

        This way, it will be easier to control what you watch or play, make sure you pay your dues to the MPAA and the likes. Plus, no need to download data, everything is centralized, all they exchange are images of your session. They will need faster pipes to allow movies & video games to b

    • I think most of the computational power with regards to nuclear weapons is used for simulating nuclear explosions to find ways to enhance yields without actually performing test detonations. I think their more immediate concerns would be enriching uranium and getting the device down to a size that they could launch on a missile and reach Israel.
    • Comeback via supercomputing? What does that even mean?

      It means Stuxnet will run much faster

    • by mschaffer (97223)

      Comeback via supercomputing? What does that even mean?

      Well, a supercomputer doesn't actually have a centrifuge. There's just threads spinlocking. Stuxnet isn't as destructive here.

    • The oil business have been users of supercomputers for a long time. A typical technique is to stick a bunch of audio sensors in the ground, blow up some explosives down in a well, and signal-process all the echoes to see what's going on geologically, in hopes that some of the structures look like the kind that have oil in them. There are lots of other petroleum applications that used to need supercomputers, such as scheduling problems, but I went to college back when "supercomputer" meant a Cray-1, whic

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Comeback via supercomputing? What does that even mean?

      "Hey, having our refinement facilities taken out by Stuxnet may have made us look like a bunch of chumps, and yeah, that was mud on our faces, we admit. But we do have technical chops! See, here's a couple Top 500 supercomputers we built ourselves!"

      That's what it means. It's about appearance and reputation.

  • by grub (11606)

    They haven't submitted a Linpack score yet because Stuxnet has the supercomputers busy spinning some centrifuges out of control.

    duh.
  • by joeflies (529536) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:13AM (#35300084)

    like, how fast can it run StuxNet?

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:14AM (#35300086) Homepage

    I'm sure it's to process all the different permutations on how to bring about the 12th Imam.

    • Better that than the 9 billion names of God. We know how that turned out.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        Better that than the 9 billion names of God. We know how that turned out.

        <rogerrabbit>One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four ...</rogerrabbit> -- you get the point. :)

  • I feel like you could buy a top 500 qualifying supercomputer off the shelf from a company like Cray.

    I looked it up, and this 89 Teraflop machine is less than buying 4 Cray E6 cabinets.

    Watson on Jeopardy is supposedly 78 Teraflops, and it isn't even a system emphasizing processing power (it emphasizes the filtering algorithms).

    Seems like much less of a feat from that perspective... :-\
  • SuperMicro (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gumbercules!! (1158841) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:16AM (#35300124)
    Those are SuperMicro servers. I resell supermicro and as much as I love their low cost and good speed, the hardware failure rate is astronomical. They should fit in well with Iran's centrifuges. :-P
    • Those are SuperMicro servers. I resell supermicro and as much as I love their low cost and good speed, the hardware failure rate is astronomical. They should fit in well with Iran's centrifuges. :-P

      If I could, I'd mod you "Funnily informative".

      Also, I hope your employer doesn't recognize your nickname. Hardware with astronomical failure rate doesn't sell well, unless it's called "Xbox 360".

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Any insight as to what CPUs they're using?

      Because, afaik, all x86 CPUs are still under ITAR, so it's illegal to ship them to Iran.

      • That's what I was wondering too. In one image, you can clearly see a screen shot of Windows 7/Vista starter, but last I checked, Microsoft was bound by the same rules as everyone else selling to Iran in the US. I know there are ways around it, but this seems to violate Microsoft's own export policies and US Trade laws.

        Come to think of it, would a big chunk of Linux be banned in these countries too?

      • As I mentioned, we resell Supermicro's. Those look like (but could be anything really), this model: http://www.supermicro.com/products/system/1U/6016/SYS-6016GT-TF.cfm?GPU=FM207 [supermicro.com] (or one of it's variants). Nearly all of them ship with Intel Xeon, although they do offer an AMD based range but it's not as popular (at least where I am).
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @11:19AM (#35300148) Journal
    The Iranians have, somehow, discovered how to use the global trade in commodity parts to build a cluster computer(consisting of suspiciously under-filled racks, with a bunch of generic 1-3U-looking compute/storage nodes, much more empty space than I would have expected, and some pretty ragged ethernet interconnects, no visible brand IDs; but the black with reddish handles on the drive caddies looks a lot like de-branded HP...)

    Other than perhaps minimally-puncturing the (always false) notion that Iran is a bunch of ignorant sand-dwellers just because it is a theocracy, I'm not seeing the big deal here. Depending on the CPU/RAM specs and how many racks there actually are(the photos are fairly cagey on the subject), it very much looks as though they've managed to put a few million dollars worth of datacenter together. News to anybody who thought that Iranians spent their time wallowing in backwardness and squalor; but pretty low-rent by cluster computer standards...
    • by Ryanrule (1657199)
      yes, amazing that they put together what is yet another line item in any megacorp.
    • by arielCo (995647)

      I just checked out the pictures, and it looks really, really fishy. All you can see is several angles of the same 4 cabinets with 16 1U servers each and one big-ass storage array: 12 disks/cage x 8 cages/cabinet x 8 cabinets = 768 disks; at 135 GB each TOPS with 1+1 mirroring, that'd be ~ 72 TB.

      Either they have a notoriously incompetent photographer, or it's the grownup version of a hastily put together science-fair mockup.

      • I definitely find any claims of it being especially high performance deeply fishy, and the unveiling of it reeks of a PR stunt; but nothing about the (limited) hardware that is there looks definitely fake.

        A bunch of 1-3Us, connected via rather scraggly patches from a few GigE switches to the on-motherboard GigE ports. Depending on the specs of the servers, we could be talking a few hundred cores, and a reasonable number of TB of storage...

        It certainly is of abnormally low density, though. Each rack is
        • by arielCo (995647)

          I definitely find any claims of it being especially high performance deeply fishy, and the unveiling of it reeks of a PR stunt; but nothing about the (limited) hardware that is there looks definitely fake.

          The hardware is legit, even run-of-the-mill. My first thought was that the billing system I manage (small mobile telco, 6MM users) is a lot bigger than this, except perhaps in storage. Yes, it looks halfway-cabled too, and cooling is underwhelming. That's why I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this was a politically-motivated show.

          "cluster porn" shots of the Big Serious Core Switch [www.bsc.es]

          I had to check out that site, just to see what kind of iron moves that much data around. An odd place to build one, BTW. Thanks!

          • I'm very fond of that particular supercomputing site. Building your giant postindustrial blinkencluster in a transparent multistory chamber inside an authentic historic chapel has way more evil genius cred than any number of white cats...
    • by Tynin (634655)
      The servers look a lot like some of the 1U [google.com] and 2U SuperMicro's [google.com] I've worked with. In your standard 42U rack you could fit ~80 servers in each of these racks, with 2U left over for network/etc. The pictures all show a pretty large datacenter floor that is mostly empty, maybe they don't have the cooling and power in place to really load the racks up to full density? Agreed though, their layout seems odd.
    • by vil3nr0b (930195)
      Yep, it's amazing how low rent you can get to build a supercomputer...especially with web resources and an exploitable, educated labor market. Take the United States for example... sometimes you don't even need a datacenter, just a cheap prefab building on cheap tax break land. Hire one person to be software/storage/network/admin. Then contract a hardware jockey cause noone likes doing it and we're cheap. These said two guys could build cluster using supermicro setups installed into APC cabinets, hook up
  • Can we PLEASE stop putting Iran down with every other comment and harping on stuxnet? It's unoriginal and uninformative. Come up with something useful to say. you're better than this.
    • i have no intent of denigrating the good name of the iranian people

      but if the harping on stuxnet and such is a sign that there is little tolerance for the military junta/ theocracy that is the iranian government, then let a thousand disparaging comment flow. screw those basij assholes and their PR window dressing of a supercomputer

      it's not like the iranian people themselves would disagree with my dim view of their government. seeing as their government has no problem massacring them if they have the audacit

    • It's unoriginal and uninformative. Come up with something useful to say. you're better than this.

      You must be new here.

  • by LWATCDR (28044)

    It is a cluster of PCs. Really folks you can buy Infinityband off NewEgg and build your own HPC cluster. It is one of those scary but oh so cool facts that just about anybody can build some massive computing power with off the self parts and Linux. The formula is pretty easy.
    Buy X Xeon or Opteron motherboards and CPUs.
    Buy enough RAM to fill all the slots.
    Build a SAN "Solaris with ZFS is a good choice"
    Buy some infinityband cards and switches.
    Buy some Gig-e switches for the SAN.
    Buy some Tesla cards or even ju

    • Only a few tiny modifications to this otherwise dead on observation.

      * Nodes don't need video, and nearly any server/cluster motherboard will have onboard cheap video anyway, so save the video cards.
      * "Rack them" is a bit more than Infiniband and parts off of NewEgg. Right idea, but there is a bit of work involved in selecting racks, rackmountable chassis that will fit your motherboard and provide adequate power and cooling, mounting your motherboards by hand in the chassis, and racking them up. Not d
      • by mangu (126918)

        * Nodes don't need video, and nearly any server/cluster motherboard will have onboard cheap video anyway, so save the video cards.

        I guess he meant video cards for GPGPU [wikipedia.org], not for video itself.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        "Nodes don't need video, and nearly any server/cluster motherboard will have onboard cheap video anyway, so save the video cards." True but Tesla cards are not available on NewEgg but high end nVidia cards are. Just thinking of GPGPU acceleration which is why I picked nVidia since suport for user programming ATI video cards is a bit lacking. Plus Iran trying to buy a bunch of Tesla cards might cause a stir. But you are correct that they would be optional.
        BTW one day I am going to see if I can offload SSL to

  • Someone is trying to make it look a lot bigger than it actually is. They can condense 4 of those racks into 1 and still have plenty of room for some airflow spacing around the systems as well as network and KVM. More propoganda. Anyone also notice all the empty racks?
    • by _generica (27453)

      Data Centre may have a max power per cabinet restriction. Very common, and forces you to spread what could be a one rack system over multiple racks.

  • touting this as state propaganda, or a stuxnet comeback, remember the US did this with the tupolev aircraft around the middle of the cold war. Speculators consistently misjudged and underestimated it until it had overtaken many of americas long-range bombers in speed and range. To this day the tupolev still sees service in many european and baltic countries.

    just because something first world comes from a country you've marginalized as third world, doesnt mean it isnt a neat idea or an interesting ende
    • by blair1q (305137)

      congratulations are in order,

      Okay. Great. "Nice freeways, Mr. Hitler. Now, if you don't mind just stepping in range of this briefcase..."

  • I think we need to launch Kiki Stockhammer at Iran. That'll show 'em who's boss.

  • Sounds like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already done just that.

  • It looks as if the Super Computer is running Windows 7 from the screen shots.
    • by Coren22 (1625475)

      As the picture page is Slashdotted (just waiting for the story, Anonymous attacks Iranian web server) I cannot see the pictures, but as Windows 7 has no cluster capabilities, it is possible that is a management console.

  • Useful unless your 1000 centrifuges were recently damaged by a scada internet worm... Stuxnet - is the remaining nuclear material loaded on two iranian warships routed throught the suez canal and bound for france/italy?

  • by cleverly making the computing mechanism out of a combination of sturdy wooden frames, non conductive wires, and stone beads. Both systems, the SUCABA 1 and SUCABA 2 are reported to be scalable well beyond the initially reported 89 teraflops, however they would require additional space, well beyond the 77,600 square kilometers of the Kavir-e Namak desert they presently occupy.
  • by PinchDuck (199974) on Thursday February 24, 2011 @12:41PM (#35301258)

    The Steve is not impressed.

  • Has anyone had a closer look at the last photo?
    They all look angry or unhappy.

    For extra credit:
    Add thought bubbles.

  • Couple of the chairs in one of the lower photos still have plastic wrappings on them!
  • TWO Iranian supercomputers and nobody's made a Photoshop joke yet?
  • Like they claimed launching four missiles in this faked photo [nytimes.com] back in 2008?
  • I saw the pics and they're running Windows 7
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you look closely at the pictures, there are two rows of racks, and one of them is empty. The rest of the pictures are of the same row of racks from four different angles trying to make the data center look larger. You can tell something is up by the "clever" photography.

    e.g.
    (only two rows in data center)
    picture 1 : empty row of racks in foreground, 2 people standing in front of full row
    picture 3 : picture taken from other end of room, full row now in foreground, empty row in background

    (all pictures tak

  • Speaking of benchmarks, is UnixBench [google.com] useful for 'nix benchmarking?

    Are there any others that are better?

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      No more so than any other test - as a synthetic performance test.

      "Hard" petaflops/etc. numbers are pretty useless unless you're doing scientific computations. Everywhere else, things like bus throughput, subsystem IOPS and throughput, and so on are much more significant.

      As for Iran, I suspect the biggest use for these computers would be in a weapons/targeting system or similar. Most of Iran's proficient scientists (who would be able to effectively utilize these systems) have long left for less oppressive re

  • 89 Teraflops = ~45 PS3s.

  • As far as I know, don't we still have a trade embargo with Iran? If so, how are they using Supermicro servers and Windows 7? They are both U.S. companies.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      That was actually touched on a couple times in the article.

      It mentions that Iran does have to get their components via the black market and that previously these purchases got routed via the EAU to Iran.

  • Now they'll be able to Photoshop their missile tests in record time!

  • So, photos are conclusive proof, are they?

    I don't suppose I should mention that I've got a half dozen latest-model IBM Bladecenters in my office. I haven't much use for them, but they're there - it means we're on the up-and-up, and have some serious computing power.

    (Note: these BladeCenters are empty plastic shells, quite similar to 'demo units' sales guys parade around or you might find at a typical Iranian photo shoot.)

  • That does not qualify it as a supercomputer. Hell, I could have an 89 TFLOP computer in my basement if we're talking pure power- a GeForce GTX 580 has 1.5TFLOPS alone, for around 4-500$, that's 50k for a computer with conservatively 1.4 times the power (motherboards and cabling to link 'em. Not counting the absurd power bills I'd rack up though). Call us, iran, when you break a petaflop.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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