The new supercomputer, named after one of Minnesota's lakes, includes a powerful shared-memory system, ultrafast disk storage/access and high-end visualization capabilities that set it apart from the rest of MSI's resources. Koronis features 1,152 processor cores that can all access 3.1 terabytes of system memory directly. For comparison, a computer bought by consumers has two processor cores. The system is complemented by 750 terabytes of disk storage and long-term archival capabilities.
"The large memory feature is important because many cutting edge research problems are memory-intensive, and Koronis gives researchers a unique tool to tackle them", stated Jeff McDonald, assistant director of high performance computing operations at MSI. "Koronis is the largest shared-memory system at MSI and it also boasts the highest performance of any MSI system."
In addition to enabling breakthroughs in biomedical science, Koronis is making its own breakthrough environmentally. The system is built on "green" computing technology for minimal environmental impact.
Because Koronis, a $3.6 million system, was purchased with funds from a NIH grant award, only NIH grant recipients and those planning to apply for such grants are eligible to use it. Several MSI researchers are already busy with their research on the new machine. Professor Elizabeth Amin, for example, is working on the detection and mitigation of chemical and biological warfare agents. Koronis allows her group to carry out complex calculations that model biochemical interactions with anthrax. Professor Kelvin Lim is researching how brain networks are altered in psyhchiatric disorders, and wouldn't be able to accomplish this without Koronis' ability to process their intense datasets.
Taking the place of the recently retired Altix computer system, Koronis will join the other supercomputer resources that MSI houses in Walter Library. These other systems - Itasca, Calhoun and Elmo - are, like Koronis, available to all researchers at institutions of higher education in Minnesota. More than 4,000 active users across a wide range of disciplines utilize MSI's diverse computational resources, making MSI a focal point of collaborative research at the University of Minnesota. MSI currently supports almost 500 active research groups by providing complete high-performance computing environments including systems, software, storage, support and services. MSI resources have helped these researchers obtain more than $150 million in external funding in the past academic year.