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Barcelona Supercomputing Center triples its HPC capacity

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Pierre Picard

With a peak performance of 186 Teraflops, the new bullx® cluster from Bull equipped with NVIDIA Tesla accelerators, is the most powerful supercomputer in Spain

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center – Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) now has a new cluster with graphical accelerators which will be used to consolidate its research in programming models, tool development and application porting. This new Bull supercomputer, based on bullx nodes, each equipped with Intel processors and NVIDIA GPUs, has a peak performance of 186 Teraflops. This cluster doubles MareNostrum’s HPC capacity, consumes seven times less power and occupies 13 times less space. The combination of this new machine and the current MareNostrum system means that the public consortium has tripled the supercomputing resources provided to the Spanish scientific community.

Unlike the MareNostrum, the new BSC-CNS cluster is a special-purpose supercomputer that offers an optimum peak performance for specific applications or programs. Its advantage, compared to general-purpose machines, is its speed and low energy consumption.

Mateo Valero, BSC-CNS Director, says, “We currently have some of the world’s best programming models so we are in an optimal position to provide some specific applications the most efficient usage of the new system, offering a significant increase in their performance”. “Additionally, our tools enable the analysis of each piece of hardware and software used in HPC (High Performance Computing), to improve the efficiency of the use of these resources”. The BSC-CNS is working on developing the Star Superscalar (StarSS) programming model and a set of tools including Paraver, Dimemas and GMAC to enable the usage of new HPC systems including special-purpose processors or components.

BSC-CNS’s Associate Director, Francesc Subirada, emphasizes that “the BSC’s programming model and tools allow the optimum use of supercomputing resources, accelerating the performance of complex applications with a high social impact (genome analysis, seismic imaging, design of new materials, etc.). Their increasing use in universities, research centers and companies around the world encourages us to carry on and further their development”.

Julio del Valle, CEO of Bull Spain, states that “the trust in our company and our technology shown by a center with a reputation like the BSC-CNS’s is an endorsement of Bull’s long term strategy to place our company, and European technology, among the best in high performance computing systems. This is based on our ability to innovate, develop and integrate. We are proud to have numerous bullx supercomputers among the most powerful in the world, many of them operating in different European research institutions. The bullx systems help these institutions to reinforce Europe’s future competitiveness. Bull strongly believes in this competitiveness, which can only be expressed through joining our R&D capabilities. In this sense the BSC-CNS is an example to all of us”.

Sumit Gupta, manager of Tesla GPU Computing products at Nvidia, states that “the dramatic boost in application performance enabled by the GPU is enabling researchers across many fields of science research to increase the pace of their work. We look forward to seeing what advances will be made by BSC users with the addition of these new resources”. NVIDIA named BSC a CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) Research Center in 2010 in recognition of its work to further science through the use of GPU Computing.

This cluster will become part of the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES) allowing Spanish scientists to increase their supercomputing resources via the current Access Committee. The new Bullx system in BSC-CNS has the most advanced technologies such as InfiniBand QDR and Solid State Disk. It is equipped with rear cooling doors to minimize the carbon footprint.

About BSC

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC, www.bsc.es) houses MareNostrum, installed in a chapel and one of the smartest supercomputers in the world. The mission is to research, develop and manage information technology in order to facilitate scientific progress. With this objective, there has been taken special dedication to research areas such as Computer Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth Sciences and Computational Applications in Science and Engineering. In the context of this multi-disciplinary approach, the BSC has a large number of HPC researchers and experts, which facilitate scientific progress together with state-of-the-art supercomputing resources. At BSC, we are more than 350 people working for research and 100 from those are outside Spain.

This Spanish multi-disciplinary supercomputing center was established by a consortium made up by the actual Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN), by the Ministry of Economy and Knowledge of the local Government of Catalonia and by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and is headed by Professor Mateo Valero.

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