[UB] Supercomputing Cluster Bolsters Centers Capabilities | UBNews Message

Devon Null devnull at butcherfamily.com
Fri Feb 16 12:15:24 EST 2001

MBOX-Line: From web-team Thu Feb 15 15:04 EST 2001

New .Rack 'Em, Stack 'Em. Supercomputing Cluster Bolsters Center.s
Capabilities at Low Cost
Release date: Thursday, February 15, 2001
Contact: Ellen Goldbaum, goldbaum at buffalo.edu
Phone: 716-645-5000 ext 1415
Fax: 716-645-3765

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An SGI-supplied supercomputing cluster based on the Linux
operating system, which provides high performance at low-cost, and which
takes up comparatively little floor space, has been installed at the
University at Buffalo's Center for Computational Research, the only
academic beta-test site for the cluster in the world.

SGI made the announcement recently at LINUXWorld in New York City, a trade
show dedicated to the Linux operating system.

"The CCR is at the cutting-edge of high-performance computing and we are
delighted to be able to augment their existing computing environment with
this SGI cluster solution," said Jan Silverman, vice president, Advanced
Systems Marketing, SGI. "The efficiency and power of the cluster is
well-suited to meet the wide range of computational challenges being
addressed by university researchers."

The SGI cluster for Linux is CCR's most powerful machine, packing 150
Gigaflops (150 billion floating operations per second) versus existing
supercomputers, which provide about 64 billion.

But for all its power, the SGI cluster for Linux, made up of 76 1-3/4
inch-high machines, each containing TWO Pentium III chips, takes up only
about 16 square feet of floor space in the machine room. By comparison, the
128 processor SGI Origin 2000 server, which delivers 64 Gigaflops, takes up
nearly 60 square feet of floor space in CCR's machine room.

According to CCR staff, the small footprint of a well-engineered cluster
allows the machines to be easily in a relatively small area, a great
benefit to supercomputing centers, research laboratories and companies that
require high-end computing, but are pressed for space.

"This is a 'rack 'em, stack 'em' supercomputer," said Russ Miller, Ph.D.,
CCR director and UB professor of computer science and engineering. "It's
one-third the size of some of our other supercomputers, and three times as
powerful. That makes these machines an order of magnitude more efficient in
those situations where space is critical." 

Miller said the cost-effectiveness of a cluster lies in the fact that its
component parts, typically commodity processors from companies like Intel
and AMD, are relatively inexpensive due to the large penetration in the

"The price of supercomputing is tumbling," said Miller. "And we believe
that the SGI cluster is at the forefront of cost-effective supercomputing."

Staff at the UB center put the cluster together for approximately one-fifth
the cost of some of their other supercomputers. Since this machine is
approximately 2-3 times as powerful as those machines for certain
applications, this is a highly cost-effective means to supporting many
high-end applications.

According to Miller, the SGI cluster for Linux was up and running at CCR
within days of its installation, solving important problems in
computational chemistry, biology and crystallography.

The Linux operating system, originally created by Linus Torvalds and
developed with assistance from programmers around the world, is free,
portable and easy-to-use, explained Matt Jones, Ph.D., CCR computational

"It allows us to build powerful computing clusters from inexpensive,
commodity off-the-shelf components that can rival the most powerful single
servers available today," he said.

SGI (NYSE: SGI) provides a broad range of high-performance computing and
advanced graphics solutions that enable customers to understand and conquer
their toughest computing problems. A strong advocate for open technology,
SGI is committed to contributing technology from its core competencies in
visualization and high-performance computing to the Open Source community
to help solve the toughest computing problems. Headquartered in Mountain
View, Calif., with offices worldwide, the company is located on the Web at
http://www.sgi.com (http://www.sgi.com).

SGI, the SGI logo and Origin are trademarks of Silicon Graphics, Inc.
Pentium is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation. Linux is a
registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other trademarks mentioned are
the property of their respective owners.


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