System for big science

    We have repeatedly introduced you to our developments for the research centers of American universities - powerful and productive systems, thanks to which modern science has gained the opportunity to develop a little faster. But the project, which will be discussed in this post, perhaps, can be called the most ambitious brainchild of Dell.

    We will not be tempting, claiming that the hero of today's story has no equal, but in our own portfolio this system has a special place. The requirements of modern science are high. To go beyond the already known facts and move to new discoveries, scientists need a powerful data center - a supercomputer with exceptional features. Such systems are necessary for modeling and subsequent analysis, for example, of objects that are too large or too small - from molecules of chemicals to entire planets. With the help of supercomputers, you can calculate the time and place of a future earthquake, study nanomaterials that convert sunlight to energy, understand how a tumor develops - in a word, get one step closer to solving the most urgent problems related to science for mankind. Such a supercomputer became Stampede. This system, today, is one of the most powerful in the world. Dell co-created it with Intel for the needs of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The data center is located on the territory of the University of Texas at Austin and has occupied more than 2.5 square kilometers of area. To roughly imagine the scope of the project, it’s worth bringing some
    • The Stampede system includes 6400 nodes located in 160 racks with a total weight of 227 tons.
    • The peak performance of the supercomputer reaches about 10 petaflops, which is similar to about 10 quadrillion calculations per second.
    • The total amount of RAM is 270 TB, and 14 PB of disk space is provided for storing data in the system.
    It is also worth mentioning that the total length of all cables connecting parts of the system exceeds 120 km! Of course, it takes a lot of energy to service such a powerful supercomputer, and in this case we can talk about a power supply of 4.5 MW. Thermal energy to ensure the functioning of the system is accumulated in special containers with a total volume of 4.5 million liters. All these figures clearly illustrate the scope with which Stampede was designed.

    Let's go deeper into the characteristics of a supercomputer. As already noted, the system has 160 racks with 6400 Dell C8220 nodes. Each of them is controlled by two 8-core Intel E5 Sandy Bridge processors with a clock frequency of 2.7 GHz and a 61-core Intel Xeon Phi Knights Corner coprocessor connected via a PCIe x16 bus. 128 computer nodes equipped with productive graphic professors NVIDIA architecture Kepler K20.
    Each node is equipped with 32 GB memory slots, another 8 GB is provided by a coprocessor. For special purposes, the system provides 16 nodes with an increased memory capacity of 1 TB each. It is also worth noting the high flexibility of Stampede: almost every node has a free compartment in which you can insert an additional component - memory, a second coprocessor, video accelerator, etc.

    All system components are integrated into the InfiniBamd FDR network with a bandwidth of up to 56 Gb / s. for each node. The Stampede channel width is commensurate with the total channel width of approximately 60 million households connected to the leased line. The high-performance Luster file system with a total volume of 14 PB provides a write speed of up to 150 GB / s. For example, a terabyte of data can be recorded in just eight seconds. Each node is also equipped with a local 250-gigabyte drive. As you can see, technically, the Stampede system is ready for the most complex calculations and visual modeling of almost any object. To date, this supercomputer has been used for more than a thousand research projects and has about 2,000 active users.

    There are a lot of directions in which Stampede turned out to be just an indispensable tool for calculations and analysis. Already now, the computer is used in biology and biochemistry as a giant computational microscope, helping to find answers to fundamental questions - for example, how new proteins are formed or how to get new generation biofuels. System capacities are actively used to research oncological diseases and search for effective drugs, to determine the place of occurrence of certain natural disasters, to analyze the processes that occur inside our planet and beyond. The system helps in the study of new materials that may be involved in the industry, and at the same time, it opens new lines in the knowledge of substances that have long been known to us. For instance, scientists are working on testing new algorithms for water imaging, which will help in the future to develop new drugs - and this was also possible only thanks to Stampede. Even for linguists and music researchers, this system has proven indispensable.

    In short, the potential of Stampede will allow it to be a unique tool for many years to help move science and solve problems that humanity has been struggling with for decades. I would like to believe that thanks to a system created by Dell, scientists will make many important discoveries.

    Well, for those who want to get to know Stampede better, we can offer to visit an interactive site dedicated to this project.

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