Formosa 4 has 88 servers, each server equipped with two six-core Xeon 5670 2.93GHz processors, InfiniBand 40Gb/s interconnection, three Nvidia Tesla M2070 GPUs, 48GB RAM, and storage nodes for a 42TB HDD capacity. To further reduce the construction cost and increase the energy efficiency, Formosa 4 adopted a CPU/GPU hybrid computing framework. Formosa 4 costs NT $37 million dollars, with an optimal performance of 70 Tflops. If it were changed to a CPU-only framework with the same computing performance, it would cost over NT$120 million.
Implementing the testing and adjustment of the overall computing efficiency of Formosa 4 was a tough task, which involved modifying cores of the operating system, altering and adjusting the network card driver, setting the network switch and network card parameters, trying numerous sets of advanced compilers, and testing several sets of computational libraries, message passing libraries, and algorithm optimisation. Since 2000, NCHC had begun developing cluster techniques, so that it could accomplish this difficult task in a short period.
The difference between the Formosa series and the "Windrider" supercomputer, ranked the 42nd on the TOP500 list released in June, 2011 is that the Formosa series is the reflection of NCHC's best parallel cluster techniques in Taiwan. It signifies NCHC's capability to handle and build Taiwan's own brand of supercomputers. Due to Formosa 4's GPU framework allowing general-purpose computation in addition to graphics processing, it provides a complementary effect on the R&D application services of the "Windrider".
Formosa series also establishes the "Render Farm" platform to provide Cloud-based animation and special effect rendering services for the local film and animation industry. The "Render Farm", officially launched on November 11, 2011, has subsequently integrated a dynamic simulation system and animation software to cultivate rendering techniques for special effects.
Formosa 4 is undergoing its final test, said Alpha Wang, manager of the planning and promotion division at the NCHC. The system, which encompasses a graphic processing unit (GPU) cluster and is located at the Tainan branch of the NCHC, is expected to come online in mid-June, she said. "Usually it takes about one year to finish the computation of some complicated animations and special effects", she stated. "Formosa 4 will be able to shorten the time and help companies introduce their works earlier."
"Some companies are using the previous generation cluster computer, Formosa 3, to compute their animations", Alpha Wang stated, without divulging the names of the companies due to confidentiality agreements.
Formosa 4 has an optimal performance of 70 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second), nearly nine times faster than the 8 teraflops of Formosa 3, which was launched in August 2011.