ITaP taking orders for new research supercomputing cluster

June 3, 2010

Orders for the new Rossmann community cluster are now being taken by ITaP. ITaP’s Rosen Center for Advanced Computing plans to build the new cluster in July. The plan calls for the supercomputer to be in production in August.

The new cluster will feature HP compute nodes with dual 12-core AMD “Magny-Cours” processors and either 48 or 96 gigabytes of memory. The cluster will contain three times more cores and memory per node than in the community clusters installed in 2008 and 2009--Steele and Coates. The new system also will include a high-performance Lustre parallel file system and 10 Gigabit Ethernet interconnects.

“The Community Cluster Program allows faculty to pull resources together into a more significant computational system,” said John Campbell, associate vice president for information technology. “Faculty benefit from not having to worry about system administration and from being able to use nodes from other faculty partners when they are not busy.”

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 to provide individually.

ITaP’s Rosen Center installs, administers and maintains the community cluster systems, including security, 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. Researchers always have access to the computing power they purchase, and potentially more if they need it.

The program also provides an opportunity for departments or individuals purchasing computing equipment for use outside the new cluster to take advantage of price breaks available in a group purchase, said Campbell, who heads the Rosen Center, ITaP’s research and discovery arm.

Vendors have provided significant price breaks on large orders. Purdue saved about $1.3 million versus standard university pricing on the Steele and Coates community clusters. Many faculty partners took the opportunity to add to their orders, ending up with more computing power for the dollars they had planned to spend.

The new cluster is being named for Michael Rossmann, Purdue’s Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, a pioneer in using high-performance computing to deduce the structure of viruses and their component protein molecules.

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

Originally posted: June 3, 2010