Orders open for Carter, Purdue’s new top-ranked research supercomputing cluster

March 06, 2012

Orders for the new Carter Community Cluster are now being taken by ITaP and its Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, which plans to have Purdue’s new research supercomputer running in full production by April.

Carter features HP compute nodes with two eight-core Intel Xeon E-5 “Sandy Bridge” processors, 16 cores per node, 32 gigabytes of RAM, a 500 GB system disk and 56 gigabits per second InfiniBand interconnects. More details are available on the Carter cluster information website. Faculty members interested in purchasing capacity in the Carter cluster should visit the Carter orders website.

Carter ranked 54th on the latest TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers and was among the half dozen most powerful machines at U.S. academic institutions. It was the most powerful on a U.S. campus where the research computing facilities are not part of a federally funded laboratory.

Purdue faculty researchers who have been testing the new cluster this semester report that it can radically speed up the time to results for many research applications and enable more complex simulations.

“Carter is running twice as fast as the supercomputer we were using and is using only half of the nodes,” says earth and atmospheric sciences professor Michael Baldwin, who’s modeling severe weather events. “That will allow us to scale our models for better forecasts.

Purdue partnered with Intel, HP and Mellanox, which makes the fast networking system tying Carter together, to build the new cluster with next-generation components that have yet to become widely available.

“The Carter cluster offers Purdue faculty access to the latest computing technology well before most of their colleagues at other institutions,” says John Campbell, ITaP’s associate vice president for research computing. “Carter also will provide the same reliable service as the other community clusters — and more computing power for the dollar invested by faculty partners.”

Through community clustering, ITaP pools internal and external funds to make more computing power available for Purdue research projects than faculty and campus units could afford individually. Carter joins four other community clusters built at Purdue since 2008, which have delivered more than a half billion research computing hours to faculty and their students.

The Rosen Center installs, administers and maintains the community cluster systems, including security and user support, so researchers can concentrate on doing research rather than on running a high-performance computing system.

Community clustering also maximizes the use of resources by sharing computing power researchers use only part of the time with their peers, who can make use of it during what might otherwise be idle time. Faculty partners always have ready access to the computing power they purchase, and potentially more if they need it.

Like the other community clusters, Carter is named for a prominent figure in Purdue’s computing pedigree, one who also happens to be prominent in the history of the personal computing industry. A retired Intel vice president, Dennis Carter, a Purdue alumnus who earned his master's degree in electrical engineering in 1974, developed the innovative "Intel Inside" marketing campaign.

Writer: Greg Kline, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8167 (office), 765-426-8545 (mobile), gkline@purdue.edu

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