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Carnegie Institute of Washington Upgrades Supercomputer With Just One Call

Nov. 3, 2010 ⋅ Categories: Physical Sciences

November 3, 2010 | Computer clusters commonly need more processing power over time in order to remain viable as tools for scientific research and discovery. Many research scientists begin small and then add horsepower as budgets become available. When budget became available to the Carnegie Institute of Washington’s (CIW) Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, they contacted PSSC Labs to expand the computing capability of their existing PowerWulf Cluster. With over 1,000 PowerWulf Clusters operational today, PSSC Labs understands that end users are looking for a simple, cost effective and easy method to add computing power.

In 2009, CIW purchased a 96 processor core, 192 GB memory PowerWulf Cluster. The primary research use for the cluster is “adaptive mesh refinement hydrodynamics code for studying mixing and transport processors in the presolar cloud and solar nebula.” According to Michael Acierno (IT Manager / Department of Terrestrial Magnetims), the PowerWulf Cluster continues to exceed expectations. “Our experience to date has been completely satisfactory,” explains Mr. Acierno. “The installation of our PowerWulf Cluster was literally plug and play. PSSC Labs had all our requirements and configured the cluster prior to shipping. Except for adding user accounts, the cluster was ready to begin computations as we powered up.” Like most system administrators, Mr. Acierno’s time is limited. A primary concern is the ongoing time requirements to manage, monitor and maintain the compute cluster. PSSC Labs understands the need to deliver a stable solution requiring as little user input possible. “Management has been simple and has required far less of my time than I anticipated,” explains Mr. Acierno.

When the time came to upgrade the processing power of the cluster, Mr. Acierno turned to PSSC Labs for help. PSSC Labs recommended migrating to their revolutionary new server platform; the PowerServe DUO TI2400. This unique design offers two complete and independent servers in just 1U of rack space. Unlike other blade servers, the PowerServe DUO TI2400 has no shared backplane or shared power supply. A key feature of this new platform is the “tool-free” design which allows for the easiest system upgrades and maintenance possible. In addition, the PowerServe DUO TI2400 offers industry leading “green features” including 90%+ efficient power supplies, power reduction management features and 55% recyclable metal. “We are pleased with the continuing improvements in cluster technology that PSSC Labs is making,” asserts Mr. Aceirno. “Notably, the shrinking physical size of the server package while simultaneously increasing the number of cores. This trend is what makes in-house resources so attractive since a very powerful cluster does not require excessive and cooling demands.”

Integrating these new server nodes into the PowerWulf Cluster required very little effort from Mr. Acierno. Each PowerWulf Cluster includes CBeST, the Complete Beowulf Software Toolkit developed and supported by PSSC Labs. CBeST includes an imaging utility allowing new nodes to be connected to the cluster switch and automatically receive the latest compute node image via PXE network. Very little input is required from the user and PSSC Labs Cluster Technicians are available to assist. With the addition of the new nodes, CIW’s cluster performance increased by 50%. “Thanks to the excellent work of (PSSC Labs) the upgrade was simple and fast. Even the nodes were labeled properly. That attention to detail does not go unnoticed.”


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For more details about PSSC Labs’ high performance servers, supercharged workstations and industry leading clusters and clouds, visit us online at http://pssclabs.com.

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