NEC SX architecture

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An SX-5 on display at the Australian Technology Park

The SX series are vector supercomputers designed, manufactured, and marketed by NEC. There have been seven generations of SX systems since the first models, the SX-1 and SX-2, were announced in April 1983. Since the late 1990s, the SX series has been amongst the most advanced of vector supercomputers. The Earth Simulator, which is built from SX-6 nodes, was the fastest supercomputer from 2002 to 2004 on the LINPACK benchmark, achieving 35.86 TFLOPS. For his work on the SX series, Tadashi Watanabe received the Eckert–Mauchly Award in 1998 and the Seymour Cray Computer Engineering Award in 2006. Starting in 2001, Cray marketed the SX-5 and SX-6 exclusively in the US and non-exclusively elsewhere for a short time.

The SX-Aurora TSUBASA is the current model. Depending on the clock frequency (1.4 or 1.6 GHz), each Vector Engine (VE) CPU has eight cores and a peak performance of 2.15 or 2.45 TFLOPS in double precision. The processor has the world's first implementation of six HBM2 modules on a Silicon interposer with a total of 24 or 48GB of high bandwidth memory. It is integrated in the form-factor of a standard full length, full height, double width PCIe card that is hosted by an x86_64 server, the Vector Host (VH). The server can host up to eight VEs, clusters VHs can scale to arbitrary number of nodes. [1] [2] [3]

SX Series systems[edit]

Since the SX-4, SX series supercomputers are constructed in a doubly parallel manner. A number of central processing units (CPUs) are arranged into a parallel vector processing node. These nodes are then installed in a regular SMP arrangement.

Single node SX systems
SX-2 SX-3 SX-4 SX-5 SX-6 SX-7 SX-8 SX-8R SX-9 SX-ACE SX-Aurora TSUBASA
Max. CPUs 1 4 32 16 8 32 8 8 16 1 8
Peak CPU double precision GFLOPS 1.3 5.5 2 8 8 8.83 16 35.2 102.4 256 2450
Peak system GFLOPS 1.3 22 64 128 64 282 128 281.6 1638 256 19600
Max. main memory 256 MB GB 16 GB 128 GB 64 GB 256 GB 128 GB 256 GB TB TB 8 * 48GB
System memory B/W (GB/s) 11 44 512 1,024 256 1,129 512 563.2 4,096 256 8 * 1200
Memory B/W per CPU (GB/s) 11 22 16 64 32 35.3 64 70.4 256 256 1200
Multi-node SX systems
SX-4 SX-4A SX-5 SX-6 SX-8 SX-8R SX-9 SX-ACE
Max. nodes 16 16 32 128 512 512 512 512
Max. CPUs 512 256 512 1,024 4,096 4,096 8,192 512
Peak TFLOPS 1 0.5 4 8 65 140.8 839 131
Max. main memory 256 GB 512 GB 4 TB 8 TB 64 TB 128 TB 512 TB 32 TB
Total memory B/W (TB/s) 8 4 32 32 131 281.6 2,048 131

Software environment[edit]

Most SX supercomputers run the SUPER-UX operating system (OS), and come with Fortran and C++ compilers. Cray has also developed an Ada compiler which is available as an option. Some vertical applications are available through NEC, but in general customers are expected to develop much of their own software.

The Earth Simulator uses a custom OS called "ESOS" (Earth Simulator Operating System). It has many features custom designed for the Earth Simulator which are not in the regular SUPER-UX OS.

In addition to commercial applications, there is a wide body of free software for the UNIX environment which can be compiled and run on SUPER-UX, such as Emacs, and Vim. A port of GCC is also available for the platform.

The SX-Aurora TSUBASA [4] PCIe card is running in a Linux machine, the Vector Host (VH), which provides operating system services to the Vector Engine (VE). The VE operating system VEOS runs in user space on the VH. Applications compiled for the VE can use almost all Linux system calls, they are transparently forwarded and executed on the VH. The components of VEOS are licensed under the GNU General Public License.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Fujitsu VP2600/10
4.0 gigaflops
World's most powerful supercomputer
(NEC SX-3/44)

Succeeded by
Thinking Machines CM-5/1024
59.7 gigaflops