MSU supercomputer expected to rank among world’s most powerful

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A fast new supercomputer at Mississippi State University will help researchers finds ways to build better cars, make more accurate weather predictions and design more efficient jet engines.

It’s also expected to ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful computers when new rankings come out next month.

MSU’s new supercomputer can perform more than 10 trillion calculations per second.

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“The computational capability of this new system is sometimes hard to grasp,” said Trey Breckenridge, high performance computing resources and operations administrator at High Performance Computing Collaboratory.

“If you sat down with a pencil and paper, and began doing one long-division problem per second, it would take you almost 340,000 years to accomplish what this system can do in a single second,” he said.

MSU’s High Performance Computing Collaboratory has installed a 2,048 processor computing cluster, named “Raptor,” which is more than four times faster than the most powerful system currently housed at the site, an IBM model called “Maverick.”

“It is anticipated that this computer will be among the 100 most powerful computers in the world when the next Top 500 Supercomputer Sites list is released next month by the University of Tennessee and the University of Mannheim (Germany),” said Colin Scanes, MSU’s vice president for research and economic development.

He said the system also likely will be among the 15 most powerful computers at any university in the U.S.

MSU’s new high-performance computing cluster — which connects 512 smaller computers together — uses servers made by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc. Each of the model X2200 M2 servers has two Opteron 2218 processors manufactured by Advanced Micro Devices, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Because existing computers currently used by HPC2 are operating at capacity, the Raptor is expected to greatly strengthen the MSU research unit’s efforts in solving problems related to automotive crash simulations, weather and ocean modeling, missile aerodynamics, and the design of more efficient jet engines.

The HPC2 is a coalition of member centers and groups that share a common core objective of advancing the state-of-the-art in computational science and engineering. This is achieved through high-performance computing; a common research approach that embraces a multidisciplinary, team-oriented concept; and a commitment to a full partnership between education, research and service.

The collaboratory’s mission is to serve the university, state and nation through excellence in computational science and engineering.

The five research units that make up HPC2 are the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, Center for Computational Sciences, Center for Department of Defense Programming Environment and Training, Computational Simulation and Design Center, and the GeoResources Institute.

David Shaw, HPC2 operations board chair and director of the GeoResources Institute, said the new Raptor supercomputer system, coupled with the recent facility expansion and rapid growth of the unit’s research programs, “will be an invaluable asset to our researchers and should be a point of pride for the state of Mississippi.”