Super Computers Can Work on Light Now: No Electricity Needed

France’s Jean Zay ultimate supercomputer has become the first HPC to incorporate a photonic co-processor. Besides that, it is among the world’s strongest computers and now placed 105 on the Top500 list. Unlike traditional processors, which transmit and process data using electricity, LightOn’s optical coprocessor communicates and processes data using light. Under a pilot scheme with GENCI and IDRIS, the firm’s photonics co-processor was introduced to these super computers. Marking is not just a technological breakthrough but also the first in the entire industry.

Access to the Super Computer

Starting from 2018, LightOn’s innovation has been used effectively by a lot of scientists. However, over the following few months, its optical coprocessor will be made accessible to a small group of Jean Zay researchers who will use it to do investigation on machine learning principles, differential privacy, satellite imaging evaluation, and natural language processing (NLP) activities.

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LightOn’s Co-Processor

Image Credits: HPCwire

The Optical Processing Unit (OPU) from LightOn utilizes photonics to accelerate arbitrary algorithms on a massive scale. It does, however, function with regular silicon CPUs, including Nvidia’s A100 GPU hardware.

The Aurora 2 OPU is used to operate the firm’s Appliance combined computing unit, which is housed in a 2U form size and can be swiftly and easily incorporated within data centers or supercomputers. LightOn claims that their Appliance can achieve maximum performance of 1.5 PetaOPS @ 30W TDP, which is 8 to 40 times faster than GPU-only accelerator.

In a press statement, the CEO of LightOn, Igor Carror said, “This pilot initiative combining a new computing technology inside one of the planet’s Supercomputer would not be conceivable without the specific dedication of innovative agencies including GENCI and IDRIS/CNRS. Our world premiere, combined with the rise of Quantum Computing, confirms our belief that the next phase beyond exascale high-performance computing will be mixed computing.”

You may be also interested in: Geforce Now and Google Stadia to arrive on Samsung’s new TVs

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