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Two US universities get a boost to their HPC facilites

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Two US universities have taken delivery of new supercomputers -- one involving direct liquid cooling -- and one that will offer universal access to researchers.

The systems have been installed at Indiana University (IU) and at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).

Indiana University’s new cluster, named ‘Kurst’, is a Linux cluster consisting of 256 compute nodes based on IBM NeXtScale nx360 M4 servers, each equipped with two Intel Xeon E5-2650 v2 8-core processors. The system will also feature 16 dedicated data nodes for separate handling of data-intensive operations.

Compute nodes are equipped with 32 GB of RAM and 250 GB of local disk storage, whereas each data node has 64 GB of RAM and 24 TB of local storage. All nodes are connected via 10-gigabit Ethernet to the IU Science DMZ, a dedicated computer network optimised to accommodate the vast amounts of research data produced by applications critical to scientific discovery and innovation.

David Hancock, manager of IU’s high performance systems said: ‘IU takes a fundamentally different approach to IT and research than most other universities because our supercomputers and large clusters are available to everyone, student or faculty, without usage fees. Our goal is always to securely support students in their academic endeavors while helping faculty members leverage IU’s IT resources to win grants and make progress in their academic areas.’ As a smaller companion to IU’s Big Red II supercomputer, Karst will be used mostly for computing jobs that take just a few processors, not the very large jobs that run on Big Red II.

Karst will be online in November. The new system replaces Quarry, IU’s soon-to-be-retired Linux cluster computing environment for research and research instruction.

The UNLV supercomputer, Cherry Creek, was developed through collaboration between Intel, SuperMicro and Supernap and uses CoolIT’s direct contact liquid cooling solutions.

Cherry Creek first featured live at the Supercomputing Conference 2013 and delivered 131.5 TFLOPS at only 74kW of power. Cherry Creek was cooled using CoolIT’s Direct Contact Liquid Cooling (DCLC) system with an AHx35 pumping and heat exchanger component. This placed Cherry Creek 400th on the 2013 Top500 Supercomputer Sites list and 41st on the 2013 Green500 list of the world’s most energy efficient supercomputers at that time.

This computer is now housed in Switch’s Las Vegas SUPERNAP data centre and available to UNLV researchers through SUPERNAP’s connectivity network. The Cherry Creek supercomputer gives the university and its research partner’s access to world-class computing power and provides for scientific discovery, the innovation of applications, and regional economic development efforts.

The Cherry Creek supercomputer is seven times faster in processing data than the supercomputer currently used by UNLV researchers, owing to the combination of Intel Xeon processors, Xeon Phi coprocessors, and Intel True Scale Fabric that Cherry Creek uses.

UNLV President Donald Snyder said: ‘Supercomputers have become an indispensable part of almost every industry. For university researchers, they’ve increased the speed of analysis and discovery exponentially. Working together with Intel and Switch, UNLV has a tremendous opportunity not only to keep pace with but to play a leading role in big data research and economic development partnerships that require high-performance computing.’