The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: March 5, 2008
At Technische Universitat Dresden, SGI Altix Accelerates Three Months of Research Into a Single Day
(Nanowerk News) At Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden), a massive deployment of compute and data management solutions from SGI NASDAQ: SGIC is enabling researchers throughout Germany to break through information processing barriers in a broad range of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, engineering, bioinformatics and nanotechnology.
A team of German researchers is running complex simulations to determine how medical device makers might fuse biological materials with plastics or ceramics to create the ideal hip replacement. Another group is semantically analyzing 16 million scientific articles to efficiently grasp the world's combined understanding of gene expression and protein structures.
TU Dresden's Center for Information Services and High-Performance Computing (ZIH) installed an SGI® Altix® 4700 system powered by 2,048 Intel® Itanium® 2 processor cores and 6.5 Terabytes (TB) of main memory. The supercomputer can deliver 11.9 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS), making it the most powerful system in the East German Federal States.
To ensure fast, easy access to data, ZIH also implemented a massive SGI® InfiniteStorage Data Management Facility (DMF) infrastructure. The hierarchical mass storage and retrieval system includes online disk space via SGI InfiniteStorage 6700 systems. By leveraging high-performance SGI InfiniteStorage Shared Filesystem CXFS™, DMF and SGI-enhanced NFS, TU Dresden researchers can rapidly move and store large volumes of data. The data management infrastructure also includes a tape robot system featuring a Petabyte of capacity.
Three months of research in a single day
The SGI Altix 4700 supercomputer offers TU Dresden researchers up to 50,000 core hours of operation daily and as much as 1.5 million hours every month. Access to this much compute power has translated into real-world benefits. For instance, a complex simulation of large eddy formations that once required more than three months to compute now can be completed overnight on the SGI Altix 4700 system. This boost in productivity also allows the TU Dresden researchers to integrate theory with simulation and experimentation more closely than ever before. This collaborative, teamwork-based workflow has lead to faster, more accurate insights, as researchers assess and compare information garnered from model calculations and experimental evidence.
"With SGI, we have obtained a well-balanced computer and storage environment that we hope will fuel innovation, not just here at the university, but throughout the region," said Dr. Hermann Kokenge, rector of TU Dresden. "With this SGI environment, we can offer our own institutes and other academic communities additional computing power in a working environment perfectly suited for data-intensive study. We already are witnessing major advances in traditional spheres of research and in emerging fields."
Data management and storage prove critical
An important component of the productivity improvements realized by TU Dresden's ZIH is the SGI InfiniteStorage environment, enabled by CXFS and DMF. For instance, the InfiniteStorage online disk system is integrated with the SGI supercomputer at the speed of 8 Gigabytes per second. That translates to extremely fast results for researchers working on even the largest problems: TU Dresden engineers have shown that CXFS can load 4 TB of data from the network into the system memory of the SGI Altix 4700 supercomputer in just 10 minutes, and 25 TB of data can move from the tape archive system to the SGI Altix in only four hours.
"High bandwidth for the fast movement of large volumes of data is extremely important for our capability computing approach," said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang E. Nagel, director of ZIH. "The SGI solution exceeded our goals for the speed and efficiency of data movement and management. This is outstanding."
SGIC is a leader in high-performance computing. SGI delivers a complete range of high-performance server, visualization and storage solutions along with industry-leading professional services and support that enable its customers to overcome the challenges of complex data-intensive workflows and accelerate breakthrough discoveries, innovation and information transformation. SGI helps customers solve significant challenges, whether it's enhancing the quality of life through drug research, designing and manufacturing safer and more efficient cars and airplanes, studying global climate change, providing technologies for homeland security and defense, or helping enterprises manage large data. With offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., and can be found on the Web at sgi.com.