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Primeur weekly 2012-04-23

Exascale supercomputing

Heading toward Exascale: ISC'12 sessions to look at global progress, plans and programmes ...

The Cloud

VENUS-C - Empowering emergency crews with the Cloud ...

Amazon Web Services introduces AWS Marketplace where customers can find and buy pre-configured software for the AWS Cloud ...

EMC introduces VSPEX proven infrastructure ...

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud selected by Data#3 for its Cloud services in Australia ...

Netelligent introduces Desktop as a Service (DaaS) powered by Desktone, Cisco and NetApp ...

Cycle Computing ramps global 50,000-core cluster for Schrodinger molecular research ...

SoftLayer adds high-performance computing to global platform ...

Desktop Grids

IBM enables water quality predictions for major waterways in partnership between World Community Grid and University of Virginia ...

EuroFlash

Russia turns to HPC to revive national defense industry ...

PRACE celebrates 2nd anniversary and launches 5th Call for Proposals ...

PRACE to issue Call for Proposals for 5th Project Access and Multi-year Access (Tier-0) and synchronized Call for DECI-9 (Tier-1) ...

SARA to launch tender for new Dutch national supercomputer ...

Innovative Nordic supercomputer in Iceland ...

First description of a triple DNA helix in a vacuum ...

Queen's aims to change the future of car manufacturing with supercomputer ...

The final frontier: space centre launch facility chooses projectiondesign ...

Data mining opens the door to predictive neuroscience ...

USFlash

Cray names William C. Blake Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer ...

DataDirect Networks lowers Big Data total cost of ownership & deployment with new NAS scaler file storage system enhancements ...

Lustre made simple by DataDirect Networks ...

CSIRO chooses Xenon for supercomputing upgrade ...

SDSC announces Center of Excellence for Predictive Analytics ...

Baylor doctoral student awarded National Science Foundation Fellowship ...

12 companies join Stanford and Berkeley to launch new Open Networking Research Center ...

Innovative Nordic supercomputer in Iceland

16 Apr 2012 Hafnarfjördur - National High Performance Computing (HPC) organisations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland have pooled resources and powered up an innovative joint supercomputer in Iceland. It is innovative not so much for its technology, but for its concept, placement and operations. The computer is part of a pilot initiative aiming to test remote hosting, such that computing is brought to the energy source and not vice versa, as is the norm, thereby introducing substantial savings. Further aims are to understand the political, organisational and technical aspects of joint ownership, administration and operation of such expensive and strategic infrastructure. Due to growing power consumption, supercomputer costs are an increasing economic burden for researchers and their universities. Iceland is an attractive location, with powerful natural resources providing very low-cost electricity and cost-efficient cooling solutions.

High Performance Computing (HPC) enables advanced scientific calculation, simulation and modelling, which in turn, and to an increasing extent, is a precondition for much of the research and innovation that is fundamental for today's knowledge driven economy. The Scandinavian countries spend millions of Euros every year on supercomputers and their electricity consumption.

"Supercomputing has become fundamental for science and innovation, yet when the cost for hosting and operations is becoming comparable to the costs of hardware, and investments are increasing, we need to look into cost efficient solutions", stated Jacko Koster, director of UNINETT Sigma.

Added to this economic incentive is of course the environmental one. Supercomputers entail a large CO2-footprint when fossil energy sources are used. In Iceland, energy is produced not only at low cost but also from CO2-neutral renewable hydro- and geothermal energy sources. Due to Iceland's geographical location, it is not feasible to transfer electricity to Europe. Hardware, however, can be moved, and so can data, via the trans-Atlantic fibre optic data-network infrastructure.

In the long term, joint large scale procurements and energy efficient placement of supercomputers will be increasingly advantageous for the Scandinavian countries as well as to Iceland. It increases value for money as well as the possibility to develop new advanced competencies within shared operations of remote computing.

"We need to constantly develop our understanding of advanced computing and how to operate it in increasingly complex ways", stated Ebba Þóra Hvannberg, director of the project and of Icelandic Supercomputing. "We must continuously push the total cost of ownership down and increase the value for money", added Rene Belso, director of Danish Supercomputing, continuing: "Indeed, we Nordics need to be first movers in all such area, since we only seem to be able make a national business case out of the most complex organisation and advanced technology implementations." Like with many other technology fields, e.g. environmental technologies, early public piloting can make the Nordics world leaders in related commercial fields.

The project is the result of collaboration between the Danish Center for Scientific Computing (DCSC), the

Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC), UNINETT Sigma and the University of Iceland. The

compute facility will be hosted by Thor Data Center, now part of the Advania family of enterprises.

Jacko Koster said that "If the pilot project is successful, successor projects may be defined in the coming years, e.g., for the joint procurement of larger supercomputers or specialized systems, which one country cannot afford alone. Possibly, such Nordic infrastructure can also be a joint contribution to European Infrastructure, like that of the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE)".

Such ideas are, understandably, not always shared by university computer centres, presently hosting the

supercomputers. Indeed, they often argue the necessity of having the hardware close by, even at higher

operations costs. "We do understand the concern of traditional computer centres, but maintain that they also regularly need to review their operations strategy, and think of cost efficiency. There will be a continuous need for complex supercomputing requiring close attention, experimentation and constant tweaking. Therefore, Nordic computer centres should focus on advanced operations and user support, not on hardware maintenance", stated Rene Belso.

Sverker Holmgren added: "Eventually, the aim is that national infrastructures for computational science in the participating countries can further increase focus on delivering high quality services and access to computational infrastructures for their users, whereas the more elementary aspects of the infrastructure (e.g., hosting of equipment) could be handed over to parties that can implement this in a more cost efficient manner, without compromising quality of service."

"Knowing that the project already consists of many complexities of a political, organisational and administrative nature, we aimed for a robust standard supercomputer architecture, useful to most researchers", stated Ebba Þóra Hvannberg. The system is being delivered by HP, via Opin Kerfi. It is based on a cluster of 288 HP ProLiant BL280c G6 servers with 3456 compute cores, achieving 35 TeraFLOPS of peak performance. Additionally it includes a 72 terabyte HP IBRIX X9320 Storage system. Project management, installation, implementation and the testing of equipment was the responsibility of the Opin Kerfi. The solution fulfilled all the requirements set out in the project scope. More information is available at http://nhpc.hi.is .

Source: Ministry of Education, Science and Culture - Iceland

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2012-04-23

Exascale supercomputing

Heading toward Exascale: ISC'12 sessions to look at global progress, plans and programmes ...

The Cloud

VENUS-C - Empowering emergency crews with the Cloud ...

Amazon Web Services introduces AWS Marketplace where customers can find and buy pre-configured software for the AWS Cloud ...

EMC introduces VSPEX proven infrastructure ...

Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud selected by Data#3 for its Cloud services in Australia ...

Netelligent introduces Desktop as a Service (DaaS) powered by Desktone, Cisco and NetApp ...

Cycle Computing ramps global 50,000-core cluster for Schrodinger molecular research ...

SoftLayer adds high-performance computing to global platform ...

Desktop Grids

IBM enables water quality predictions for major waterways in partnership between World Community Grid and University of Virginia ...

EuroFlash

Russia turns to HPC to revive national defense industry ...

PRACE celebrates 2nd anniversary and launches 5th Call for Proposals ...

PRACE to issue Call for Proposals for 5th Project Access and Multi-year Access (Tier-0) and synchronized Call for DECI-9 (Tier-1) ...

SARA to launch tender for new Dutch national supercomputer ...

Innovative Nordic supercomputer in Iceland ...

First description of a triple DNA helix in a vacuum ...

Queen's aims to change the future of car manufacturing with supercomputer ...

The final frontier: space centre launch facility chooses projectiondesign ...

Data mining opens the door to predictive neuroscience ...

USFlash

Cray names William C. Blake Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer ...

DataDirect Networks lowers Big Data total cost of ownership & deployment with new NAS scaler file storage system enhancements ...

Lustre made simple by DataDirect Networks ...

CSIRO chooses Xenon for supercomputing upgrade ...

SDSC announces Center of Excellence for Predictive Analytics ...

Baylor doctoral student awarded National Science Foundation Fellowship ...

12 companies join Stanford and Berkeley to launch new Open Networking Research Center ...