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Primeur weekly 2015-09-07

Special

Supercomputer visualization complements physical experiments in car design ...

Focus

Oort Cloud down to Earth - new Dutch HPC Cloud cluster at SURFsara ...

Crowd computing

BOINC 7.6.9 release for Windows and Mac now available ...

Quantum computing

QuTech quantum institute enters into collaboration with Intel ...

Focus on Europe

ISC High Performance calls on researchers to join the 2016 Research Paper sessions ...

Middleware

NEC and Hortonworks partner in distributed processing of Big Data ...

ORNL-developed building efficiency software now available ...

Hardware

Mellanox begins shipping Spectrum, industry's first open Ethernet 25/50/100 Gigabit switch, to Cloud, Web 2.0 and enterprise data centre customers ...

New supercomputer at UC Merced can advance diverse array of research ...

Seagate delivers industry's broadest portfolio of 8TB hard drives ...

Supermicro debuts embedded motherboard and system solutions supporting the new 6th Gen Intel Core processor family ...

Supermicro debuts 115TB All-Flash software-defined storage solution for enterprise and Cloud scale environments ...

Gigabyte introduces a high performance 4 x GPU capable 1U server ...

Applications

NASA Arctic field campaign to examine ecosystem impacts of changing climate ...

CT scan of Earth links deep mantle plumes with volcanic hotspots ...

The Cloud

IBM and ARM collaborate to accelerate delivery of Internet of Things ...

Mellanox simplifies Cloud deployments with CloudX hyper-converged platforms for enterprise and telecom ...

Mellanox Ethernet solutions enable Cloud-based businesses to achieve higher level of efficiency and scalability over VMware vSphere 6 ...

Oracle Canadian data centre now available to support localized data residency ...

Oracle Service Cloud granted U.S. Department of Defense authority to operate ...

Oort Cloud down to Earth - new Dutch HPC Cloud cluster at SURFsara


4 Sep 2015 Amsterdam - The Oort Cloud is a belt far out in the universe, way beyond Pluto. It is named after the Dutch astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort. Hence it was a logical name to use for the new SURFsara High Performance Computing Cloud cluster. SURFsara is the Dutch national supercomputing centre, part of the SURF Dutch e-Infrastructure family.

The Oort cluster has recently opened up to the whole Dutch Research and Academic community. Existing and coming users can benefit from various changes over the old Cloud, such as more powerful hardware, a robust and user-friendly interface and many other new features.

The Oort cluster consists of powerful compute and high-performant storage nodes, the physical machines where the users run their Virtual Machines (VMs). The hardware powering Oort includes:

  • 32 HPC compute nodes with 64 cores, 256GB RAM memory, 3.2 TByte local SSD storage
  • 1 High Memory node with 40 cores, 2TB RAM, 3.2 TByte local SSD storage
  • 12 GPU compute nodes with 32 cores, 256GB RAM, 3.2 TByte local SSD storage
  • 900TB of storage on distributed object storage Ceph. In consists of 2.7PByte physical storage but with with 3-fold redundancy)
  • Fast network between compute Virtual Machines

In addition, the Oort cluster has 24 K2 NVIDIA GRID cards in 12 nodes.

The total number of SPECints amounts to 42.840 for all servers in the Cloud.

The new HPC Cloud uses Intel Haswell CPUs for good overall performance, and offers GPU nodes for GPU-accelerated applications. There are 2 storage types: Ceph and SSD. Data stored on Ceph is replicated, to protect against data loss in case of hardware failure. Users can keep the operating system images on SSD, and store the bulk data on Ceph datablocks. Small, local, and fast storage is typical for High Performance Computing and mainly used for computations and operating systems, whereas "Big Data" input and computed results are copied to the larger and more reliable network storage (Ceph).

A first HPC Cloud

The HPC Cloud service at SURFsara started in 2011. It was one of the first Cloud infrastructures in Europe dedicated to HPC. The HPC Cloud was implemented as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform, relying on the OpenNebula Cloud middleware software. The goal was to provide scientists with their own virtual environment, including processing, storage and networking resources and full control over their own virtual machines (VMs). Scientists can log into their virtual machines, install their own operating system and applications, upload data and launch their HPC analysis. Some users prepare single multi-core or high-memory VMs, and others launch multiple VMs that cooperate in a private cluster, depending on the research requirements.

Many scientists benefit from the system's flexibility, because running their applications on the HPC Cloud requires less modification than running their application on other traditional HPC environments. The users appreciate this flexibility, and SURFsara has seen a steady increase in the number of projects. Thus far, about 300 projects from various research fields, including Life Sciences, Informatics, Ecology, Business Social sciences, Engineering, etc., have successfully used the HPC Cloud.

Big Data ready

However, the old Cloud was designed mainly for compute power. With the growing popularity of the HCP Cloud, the focus shift towards more data centric science and the variety of projects run on the Cloud, the users needed a more optimized platform. Therefore, a completely new system has been built in order to meet these demands. The new Cloud is designed to fulfil as many user requirements as possible: a lot of computing power, lots of fast data storage and a fast network, all delivered through a user-friendly web interface.

The engineering team has installed and configured Oort piece by piece. Together with the advisors, the SURFsara Cloud team has worked hard to make the massive infrastructure upgrade possible. The upgrade includes major changes in both the software and the hardware backend.

The underlying Cloud software on the new HPC Cloud runs on the latest version - v4.12 - of OpenNebula. This offers an intuitive user interface, a scheduler for well-balanced and efficient use of the resources and the possibility to accommodate various user profiles, for novice, advanced and master users.

Launching VMs on the new HPC Cloud is easier than ever. Anyone who acquires an account on the user interface can import a pre-made OS image from the AppMarket repository, then configure the Virtual Machine's number of CPUs, amount of RAM, network, boot and data images at will and fire up the machine. This way, the VM is tailored to the user's needs.

Beta tested

The SURFsara engineering team introduces a new, more sophisticated user interface (UI). The users interact with the HPC Cloud via the web interface that OpenNebula offers. This is far more intuitive than before; it is now possible to run a VM on the Oort cluster with just few clicks.

The new role of the "groupadmin" allows master users to have full control of their projects. This includes creating new users, assigning quotas and tracking the project accounting in a dashboard.

Similarly to the old Cloud Wizard, the new HPC Cloud allows easy creation of a Linux VM from the AppMarket or through the appliances repository.

Ceph datablocks are used as local disks on virtual machines. They can be partitioned and formatted in any file system type, so they can be used on Linux or Windows systems, with full control of permissions and ownership of files.

It is also possible to connect and disconnect disks to or from running VMs, without the need for a machine reboot. All changes will take effect instantly with new disks appearing 'automagically' inside the user's machines after a successful action.

Several users have already experienced the new features of the HPC Cloud during the Beta phase and since recently also the production phase. The feedback is very positive and encouraging so far. The users find the UI a lot better than before, the VM instantiation and boot on local SSD very fast, CEPH more stable and faster than the previous NFS implementation and the AppMarket easy to use. The users report performance improvements in long-running computations and like the possibility to book large RAM memory spaces.

New communities

Up to now, SURFsara's HPC Cloud mainly accommodated individual scientists or small research groups who required HPC resources to successfully run their project. Although the HPC Cloud will remain the most suitable HPC platform to build this type of self-service running systems, SURFsara anticipates that the new Oort Cloud capabilities will attract new user segments such as:

  • Communities looking for a place to collaborate. The new user interface is capable of enabling different projects all sharing the same software and tools under the supervision of master users who have full control and insight over resources and users.
- Institution clusters maintained by IT administrators. Oort's infrastructure offers an ideal environment for building your own compute cluster. SURFsara can provide infrastructure services for compute clusters, while the IT administrator remains the access point for multiple users who run multiple jobs at a time. All that without bothering with the maintenance of the underlying hardware.
Anatoli Danezi, SURFsara

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2015-09-07

Special

Supercomputer visualization complements physical experiments in car design ...

Focus

Oort Cloud down to Earth - new Dutch HPC Cloud cluster at SURFsara ...

Crowd computing

BOINC 7.6.9 release for Windows and Mac now available ...

Quantum computing

QuTech quantum institute enters into collaboration with Intel ...

Focus on Europe

ISC High Performance calls on researchers to join the 2016 Research Paper sessions ...

Middleware

NEC and Hortonworks partner in distributed processing of Big Data ...

ORNL-developed building efficiency software now available ...

Hardware

Mellanox begins shipping Spectrum, industry's first open Ethernet 25/50/100 Gigabit switch, to Cloud, Web 2.0 and enterprise data centre customers ...

New supercomputer at UC Merced can advance diverse array of research ...

Seagate delivers industry's broadest portfolio of 8TB hard drives ...

Supermicro debuts embedded motherboard and system solutions supporting the new 6th Gen Intel Core processor family ...

Supermicro debuts 115TB All-Flash software-defined storage solution for enterprise and Cloud scale environments ...

Gigabyte introduces a high performance 4 x GPU capable 1U server ...

Applications

NASA Arctic field campaign to examine ecosystem impacts of changing climate ...

CT scan of Earth links deep mantle plumes with volcanic hotspots ...

The Cloud

IBM and ARM collaborate to accelerate delivery of Internet of Things ...

Mellanox simplifies Cloud deployments with CloudX hyper-converged platforms for enterprise and telecom ...

Mellanox Ethernet solutions enable Cloud-based businesses to achieve higher level of efficiency and scalability over VMware vSphere 6 ...

Oracle Canadian data centre now available to support localized data residency ...

Oracle Service Cloud granted U.S. Department of Defense authority to operate ...