Koronis supercomputer deployed

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The University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for Advanced Computational Research (MSI), USA, has announced that a new high-performance computing system, Koronis, is fully operational. Koronis will enable research ranging from interpreting molecular level data to aiding in the design of new biomedical technologies. The new system is designed meet the needs of research groups at MSI in the fields of multi-scale modelling, chemical dynamics, bioinformatics, and computational biology and biomedical imaging.

The new supercomputer, named after one of Minnesota's lakes, includes a powerful shared-memory system, ultrafast disk storage/access and high-end visualisation capabilities that set it apart from the rest of MSI's resources. Koronis features 1,152 processor cores that can all access 3.1 Tbytes of system memory directly. The system is complemented by 750 Tbytes of disk storage and long-term archival capabilities, and is built on ‘green’ computing technology for minimal environmental impact.

‘The large memory feature is important because many cutting-edge research problems are memory-intensive, and Koronis gives researchers a unique tool to tackle them,’ said Jeff McDonald, assistant director of high-performance computing operations at MSI. ‘Koronis is the largest shared-memory system at MSI and it also boasts the highest performance of any MSI system.’

Because Koronis, a $3.6 million system, was purchased with funds from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant award, only NIH grant recipients and those planning to apply for such grants are eligible to use it. Several MSI researchers are already conducting research on the new machine. Professor Elizabeth Amin, for example, is working on the detection and mitigation of chemical and biological warfare agents. Koronis allows her group to carry out complex calculations that model biochemical interactions with anthrax.

Taking the place of the recently retired Altix computer system, Koronis will join the other supercomputer resources that MSI houses in Walter Library. These other systems – Itasca, Calhoun and Elmo – are, like Koronis, available to all researchers at institutions of higher education in Minnesota, USA.