November 25, 2005
The University of Southern California Center for High-Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC), a leading research computing center, has added 360 Sun Microsystems dual-core Sun Fire V20z x64 (x86, 64-bit) servers, powered with AMD Opteron processors, to its supercomputer cluster. The upgrade of the system was driven by a desire to strengthen its performance and capability. It is currently ranked as the 24th fastest supercomputer in the world, and the second fastest in an academic setting in the U.S., based on the Linpack benchmark. The recent addition of the Sun Fire V20z servers increased the number of compute nodes in USC's HPCC cluster from 1,716 to 1,830 -- 360 Sun Fire nodes were added while 246 older nodes were retired.
Preliminary testing performed at the Sun Solution Center for High Performance Computing (HPC) in Hillsboro, Ore., demonstrated that Sun's servers can deliver near 85 percent of the peak floating point performance on the Linpack benchmark. The HPCC recently ran this benchmark using Sun's industry-standard x64 servers and achieved a result of 10.75 teraFLOPS. This resulted in the fastest computation USC has ever processed, delivering a nearly 50 percent increase over its previous Linpack benchmark results.
"We look to Sun as one of our key partners when augmenting our HPCC environment. When we wanted to boost the speed and power of our supercomputer, we decided to use the dual-core Sun Fire V20z server," said Mike Pearce, USC's deputy CIO. "The dual-core Sun Fire V20z servers helped us improve our benchmark results and compete head-to-head with more heavily funded government-supported supercomputing projects around the world without increasing the system footprint and power consumption requirements, which can be a major expense."
USC's HPCC supports large-scale supercomputing projects for more than 120 research groups at the university in a variety of disciplines, ranging from genomics and geophysics to materials science and natural language translation. USC's HPCC has risen to become a leader among supercomputing centers and makes steady IT investments to achieve its current status among the world's top supercomputer sites.
"Our HPC and grid computing solutions help organizations like USC to maximize productivity, reduce cost and complexity, improve ROI and speed time-to-market. Sun offers flexibility and choice for HPC with a complete portfolio of technologies and partnerships for a successful implementation," said Marc Hamilton, director of technology for Sun's Global Education and Research Group. "Our continued innovation around Sun's x64 servers has resulted in record-breaking performance for USC's HPCC server cluster, allowing them to demolish previous records by adding a critical boost of extra power which complemented its supercomputer's existing server nodes."
Following its investment in Sun Fire V20z servers, USC recently implemented an enterprise-class Sun Fire x64 server in its HPCC. USC selected the new Sun Fire X4200 server powered with the AMD Opteron processor to evaluate in its center based on its performance capabilities and ease-of- management. USC anticipates that the new Sun Fire x64 servers will help its supercomputer run faster with less maintenance.
"Early use of the Sun Fire X4200 server has proved successful," added Pearce. "The Sun Fire x64 server enables us to look at scaling our supercomputer even more in the future based on its advanced systems management capabilities, enhanced power and new memory system."
More information on USC's Center for High-Performance Computing and Communications can be found at http://www.usc.edu/hpcc/ .
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