Novo-G: World's fastest reconfigurable supercomputer

Feb 18, 2011

Novo-G: World's fastest reconfigurable supercomputer
University of Florida's supercomputer Novo-G is the world's fastest reconfigurable supercomputer and outperforms the Chinese supercomputer touted as the world's most powerful.

Novo-G is about the size of two home refrigerators and consumes less than 8,000 watts, unlike conventional supercomputers that can consume up to millions of watts of electrical power, generating massive amounts of heat.

In November, the TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers, for the first time ever, listed the Chinese Tianhe-1A system at the National Computer Centre in Tainjin in China as Number 1.

"Novo-G is believed to be the most powerful reconfigurable machine on the planet and, for some applications, it is the most powerful computer of any kind on the planet," said Alan George, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Florida University.

Reconfigurable computing is an innovative form of computing, whose architecture can adapt to match the unique needs of each application, leading to much faster speed and less wasted energy, the journal IEEE Computing in Science and Engineering reports.

The TOP500 list ranks supercomputers by their performance on a few basic routines in linear algebra using 64-bit, floating-point arithmetic, said George, according to a Florida University statement.

However, a significant number of the most important applications in the world do not adhere to that standard. Most of the world's computers, from smart-phones to laptops to Tianhe-1A, feature microprocessors with fixed-logic hardware structures.

All software applications for these systems must conform to these fixed structures, which can lead to a significant loss in speed and increase in energy consumption.

Later this year, researchers will double the reconfigurable capacity of Novo-G, an upgrade only requiring a modest increase in size, power, and cooling, unlike upgrades with conventional supercomputer.