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HPC Initiative Opens September 16th at Arizona State University
Posted by Jess Koldoff, Friday September 16 2005 @ 03:20AM EDT

New Supercomputing Facility Enables Researchers to Find Solutions in Fractions of the Time

High Performance Computing Initiative Opens September 16th at Arizona State University

TEMPE, Ariz.- Today, solving many of our most important scientific and engineering problems requires the ability to manage ever-growing volumes of data and to evaluate increasingly complex computational models. High-performance computing (HPC) has emerged as the key player to significantly accelerate research productivity, information acquisition, time-to-manufacture-and-market, knowledge discovery, and innovation. The use of HPC is important to the economic health of the United States and of Arizona. In the words of the Council on Competitiveness, to “out-compete is to out-compute.”

The Fulton School is actively engaged in enhancing this competitive resource at Arizona State University by establishing a large-scale computing facility, the Fulton High Performance Computing Initiative (HPCI), utilizing off-the-shelf computer systems assembled into clusters and connected via a fast network. Under the direction of Dr. Dan Stanzione, the Fulton School designed and built one of the densest machine rooms deployed at a university, calculating up to two trillion computations per second. The central computing cluster was installed in partnership with Dell Inc. Innovative new cooling technologies allow it to deliver 500 watts of computing capacity per square foot.

“It is all about being competitive,” said Dr. Stanzione, director of the HPCI. “High performance computing allows our government and industry to maintain its role as innovators in the global marketplace and the HPCI will grant researchers at Arizona State University access to this increasingly necessary advancement tool.”

Fully operational in fall 2005, the HPCI will also host satellite clusters around ASU dedicated to research at the Decision Theater for the New Arizona as well as the Biodesign Institute. Research already underway includes modeling of weather and oceans, developing more effective methods for drug delivery, and designing high temperature materials for more efficient power plants. In addition to providing accelerated computing capacity for faculty research at the university, the HPCI is facilitating student research, offering specialized courses and integrating computational engineering as a fundamental component in the undergraduate degree curriculum.

The Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering provides a transformative educational experience for engineering, computer science and construction students, giving them the knowledge and skills they need for success in a technically oriented career. The school also engages in use-inspired research in a multidisciplinary setting, creating knowledge for the benefit of individuals, society and the environment. Through the creation of a highly educated, innovative workforce and the advancement of technical knowledge, the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering drives sustainable growth and improved quality of life for the communities it serves.


Additional HPCI fun facts:

The lab itself can sustain up to 750,000 watts of computer equipment in only 1200 square feet, making it capable of supporting more computing power per square foot than virtually any other university facility anywhere in the world.

The HPCI central cluster is capable of sustained performance of more than 2 trillion computations per second (2 Teraflops) on its 400 processors.

The central cluster would currently rank as approximately the 173rd fastest computer in the world.

Not counting the computers, more than 60,000 lbs of equipment went into the construction of the power and cooling systems to support the lab, including more than 4,000 pounds of copper cable for the additional power lines in the building.

The air conditioners currently deployed in the lab could cool more than 25 single family homes. When the lab is completely filled with systems, it will use the cooling capacity of more than 75 homes in just one room.

The first supercomputer, the Cray-1, was delivered to Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976. The HPCI main cluster is 25,000 times faster than the $8M Cray 1.

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