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By | Tony Smith 19th November 2008 10:20

Nvidia pitches Tesla GPU-as-CPU tech 'personal supercomputer'

This time it's real, apparently

Nvidia has introduced a desktop computer architecture based on its Tesla graphics chip and it's calling the system the first "real" desktop supercomputer.

The typical spec comprises an AMD four-core Phenom processor plus a trio of Tesla C1060 two-slot cards and a Quadro FX card to take the GPU total to four. The Quadro handles the graphcs while the three Teslas combine with Nvidia's CUDA GPU-as-CPU software to crunch numbers.

Nvidia Tesla Personal Supercomputer logo

Look for 4Tflop computing wherever you see this sign

The upshot, the chip maker claimed, are machines the provide 250 times the processing power of a conventional PC.

Yes, and many, many more times the price too. One of Nvidia's system builder partners is US company Colfax, and its base-spec CXT3000 PSC system with Windows XP 64-bit, three Teslas, a Quadro FX 370, a 2.2GHz Phenom 9550, 2GB of 800MHz DDR 2 memory, a Western Digital 160GB 7200rpm 3Gb/s SATA hard drive and a multi-format DVD writer will set you back $6574 (£4397/€5206).

That said, it's not a rig for gamers - well not many of 'em, anyway - but for boffins who need to process highly complex data models. Think Folding@Home running many times more rapidly than it can manage on your own PC CPU's downtime.

Up the CXT3000 PSC's graphics card to a Quadro FX 5800, and the thing's capable of a 4Tflops of floating-point maths.

In addition to Colfax, other specialist workstation suppliers offering Tesla boxes include UK firms Armari, CAD2 and Viglen; in the US, the list includes Amax, Boxx, Microway and Western Scientific. Mainstream suppliers set to offer Tesla systems globally include Asus, Dell and Lenovo.

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