back to article UK govt snubs Intel, seeks second-gen AMD Epyc processors for 28PFLOPS Archer2 supercomputer

Cray has landed a £48m deal to construct Blighty's 28-petaFLOPS Archer2 supercomputer, which will use second-generation AMD Epyc processors. The contract was confirmed on Monday in an email from the British government's UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) organization to boffins. The 750,000-ish-core supercomputer is …

  1. Androgynous Cow Herd

    “Science isn't about WHY, it's about WHY NOT!”

    -Cave Johnson

  2. Androgynous Cow Herd

    “Science isn't about WHY, it's about WHY NOT!”

    -Cave Johnson

    1. Locky

      And repeating your experiments?

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        That's parallel computing for you :)

        (and laggy networks).

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        repeating your experiments

        That is validation that the first one was not a fluke

      3. eldakka Silver badge

        And repeating your experiments?

        If you are expecting a different result, insanity.

  3. Korev Silver badge

    >UK govt snubs Intel

    They're also snubbing Nvidia and AMD GPUs. It's nice to see the UK putting in a system that'll be useful to more people than the subset of code that runs well on GPUs. It will however mean that it won't feature that high on the Top500...

    1. Ian Bush

      Actually it should be fairly high unless there is a rush of new machines at the top end. Speaking as someone on the evaluation team for the project ... But as for GPUs the users (mostly) didn't want them, so we didn't get them.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge


        May I ask if these cpus beat datacenter GPUs on Gflop per £? That is what my math tells me with chiplet based Ryzen.

        1. Ian Bush

          Re: Money/oomph

          Macho flops/£ and achieved flops/£ are very different things, especially once software development and maintenance costs are factored in, and also electricity bills. But the honest truth is for this project the vast majority of users didn't need or want GPGPUs to do their science, and in many cases GPU versions of the applications just don't exist, so early on a decision was made to be purely CPU based - the machine is there to do science, and if it can't do the science the user base needs it doesn't matter how many macho flops it can do. As a result I can't answer your question as we never did that calculation.

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Money/oomph

            > Macho flops/£ and achieved flops/£ are very different things, ...

            I am going to borrow this.

            1. Ian Bush

              Re: Money/oomph

              I hope you work for Intel ...

              1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

                Re: Money/oomph

                Nope. Just a random HPC guy here.

      2. Mr ETERNUS UK

        Hi Ian, very cool project to be a part of! Was there any dive into what this new wave of AI and Deep Learning products could do? # Fujitsu DLU #Fujitsu digital annealer

  4. sbt Silver badge

    That's a lot of acronyms

    I'm gonna need a supercomputer to process them all.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I had a look at this Lustre file system at, but I have as yet not come across any features to protect data from hardware failures - from what I have read so far it's all about speed, not about reliability.

    Did I miss something?

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Re: Redundancy?

      You did. Lustre relies on a backend file system to provide data durability, and ZFS is commonly used in this role.

    2. DontFeedTheTrolls

      Re: Redundancy?

      Redundancy will introduce latency for little benefit if there's no data to lose.

      If all the data to be processed can be recreated from the source why introduce latency to all work for a failure resulting in just one failed piece of work.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. phuzz Silver badge

    Yes, but will it run Crysis?

    (someone had to ask, and may I also apologise for the moths that seem to have escaped from ye Olde Joke Book)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A more pertinent question might be how many bitcoins per day can it mine. ;-)

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      edited: bah, beaten to it, nevermind.


      (original post)

      A more important question, what's its bitcoin hash rate?

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I have to wonder

    What OS does such a monster run ? Is it a variant of some form of Linux ?

    Do they make a specific OS for every supercomputer ?

    1. Ian Bush

      Re: I have to wonder

      Yes - it will run Linux.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: I have to wonder

      Something like 99% (if not 100%) of the world's top supercomputers run Linux. Apart from saving the cost of maintaining and updating a bespoke OS for just a handful of machines, the boffins who use it can port their code and IT skills to the next-generation model without fear of proprietary system lock-in.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have to wonder

      What OS does such a monster run ? Is it a variant of some form of Linux ?

      Of course. With that amount of hardware it will otherwise only just about run Windows 10.


  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I was thinking of buying one myself

    But then I realised an 80A home supply wasn't sufficient.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: I was thinking of buying one myself

      Judging by the ever increasing power demands of smartphones you will have to bite that bullet at some point anyway.


  10. Robert Sneddon

    Is Wee Archie getting an upgrade too?

    The Edinburgh HPCC's existing Archer supercomputer has a sidekick, Wee Archie.

    Surely it's about time Wee Archie got some new hardware such as Raspberry Pi 4s to boost its performance.

    1. devTrail

      Re: Is Wee Archie getting an upgrade too?

      The article states it will be shut down, which seems a waste, it will be 6 years old by the time, old by IT standards, but not so old.

  11. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Gen 2 and Not Gen 3 TR

    I suppose they're getting a price break as the Gen 3's are due out soon. Still, I would have waited for the Gen 3 Threadrippers to make it more supercomputery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gen 2 and Not Gen 3 TR

      The AMD cores are Zen 1 (Naples 14nm/12nm) and Zen 2 (Rome 7nm)

      Gen1 Naples was then:

      - desktop: 2 x Zen for upto 8CPU/16 thread with (Ryzen gen 1)

      - HEDT: 4 x Zen for upto 16CPU/32 thread (Threadripper gen 1)

      - server: 8 x Zen for upto 32 CPU/64 thread (EPYC gen 1)

      Gen2 Naples was then:

      - desktop: 2 x Zen for upto 16CPU/32 thread (Ryzen gen 2)

      - HEDT: 4 x Zen for upto 32CPU/64 thread (Threadripper gen 2)

      Gen 1 Rome is currently:

      - desktop: 2 x Zen2 for upto 8CPU/16 thread (Ryzen gen 3)

      - HEDT: ???

      - server: 8 x Zen2 for upto 64 CPU/128 thread (EPYC gen 2)

      Memory channels and PCI lanes also scale with the number of core complexes

      TL;DR: EPYC Rome is as supercomputery as you can get at the moment for x86.

      1. Robert Sneddon

        EPYC 2 Rome

        One of the overexcited Youthtoober types (I think he's Canadian) got an EPYC 2 Rome CPU, put it on a server board and then ran Crysis on it. Not a success -- "Hey, is this running on CPU-only rendering?" Voice offscreen "Yup."

        Seeing Task Manager showing 112 threads running on a single CPU was... impressive.

        1. GreenReaper

          Re: EPYC 2 Rome

          It's a little sad, but I knew it was Linus even before I looked (and yes, it was).

          The video's nothing special, but he did point out the useful tip that you have to be careful which header to plug the CPU fan into, after putting it into a case output - apparently Supermicro server boards don't have them labelled them that well?

    2. David Hicklin

      Re: Gen 2 and Not Gen 3 TR

      For some reason I misread the headline as "2nd Hand" not "2nd Gen", which being UK government would be believable.

  12. ShortLegs

    Soooo whats happening to the old Archer - Ebay?

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The old archer says

    "I'm still Awesome"

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