For the Wilhelms University of Westphalia, based in Münster (Germany), the supersystem marks the “entry into a new era of scientific computing”. When the system reaches its final stage next year, it will be a hundred times faster than the University’s previous high-performance system.
In its first phase, to be installed by Bull before the end of 2009, the University’s supercomputer will include 36 nodes. In its final stage, this high-powered system will be composed of 230 bullx™ compute blades and a SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) system. The cluster will then deliver a performance of exactly 27.5 Teraflops. As a comparison, to reach this level of performance, the 82 million German citizens would need to perform 360,000 operations per second.
Bull won the order for this Extreme Computing system after a Europe-wide tendering process and careful scrutiny by the University of Münster of the proposals issued by several renowned manufacturers. What made the difference – besides the energy efficiency of the supercomputer – was its high degree of flexibility, which allows it to meet the varied requirements of the different fields of application.
“With the new supercomputer, the University of Münster can once again offer its scientists a computing system that can compete with the best systems installed in higher education establishments,” said Dr. Raimund Vogl, Director of the University’s Computing Center. The German Society for Research (Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft) provided the largest part of the funding, around €620,000, while the region of North-Rhine Westphalia contributed €500,000. “This is an excellent investment, as the new system will allow us to run new projects in many different fields. We already have 23 proposed projects to run on the new supercomputer,” added Raimund Vogl.
“I am very proud of this decision of a renowned University in our favor. It is further proof that Bull is now established among the top tier of HPC providers. After the universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf, the Fraunhofer Institute in Sankt Augustin and the Jülich Research Center, the University of Münster is another prestigious HPC customer that has chosen an Extreme Computing solution from Bull,” said Michael Gerhards, CEO of Bull Germany.
The main technical features of the University of Münster’s €1.3 million investment (final stage) are:
- A total of 230 bullx compute blades each equipped with two hexa-core Intel ‘Westmere’ processors
- An SMP system with 16 octo-core Intel ‘Nehalem’ EX processors (i.e. 128 cores) and a total of 512 GB of RAM
- An ultra fast InfiniBand™ QDR interconnect network, with a 40 Gbit/s bandwidth and a fully non-blocking architecture, to link all cluster nodes together
- A Data Direct Networks (DDN) storage system with a capacity of 250 TB and a Lustre™ file system.
The cluster, which runs under Redhat Linux and CentOS Linux, is managed through ‘bulls.cluster’, a solution developed by Bull affiliate science+computing ag and based on ‘scVENUS’.