IBM Systems and Technology                                                                                                ...
IBM Systems and Technology                                                                                             Edu...
IBM Systems and Technology                                                                                             Edu...
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Cardinal Research Cluster takes flight at University of Louisville

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The University of Louisville in Kentucky is a leading center for advanced
research, using the power of its computing cluster to help develop new
cancer drugs, find effective treatments for spinal cord injuries and develop
new solar cell materials.
Researchers engaged in scientific fields of study such as bioinformatics,
engineering and computational chemistry, however, did not always have a
centralized high-performance computing cluster to facilitate their work,
says Priscilla Hancock, Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer
at the University of Louisville.

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Transcript of "Cardinal Research Cluster takes flight at University of Louisville"

  1. 1. IBM Systems and Technology EducationCase Study Cardinal Research Cluster takes flight at University of Louisville With a high-performance IBM System x iDataPlex solution The University of Louisville in Kentucky is a leading center for advanced Overview research, using the power of its computing cluster to help develop new cancer drugs, find effective treatments for spinal cord injuries and develop The need new solar cell materials. The University of Louisville needed to expand its secure, centralized, high- performance computing cluster to help Researchers engaged in scientific fields of study such as bioinformatics, faculty and students conduct a wide engineering and computational chemistry, however, did not always have a variety of computationally demanding research. centralized high-performance computing cluster to facilitate their work, says Priscilla Hancock, Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer The solution at the University of Louisville. The school implemented 204 IBM System x® iDataPlex® “When I arrived there wasn’t any central computing research capability,” dx360 class servers with Intel® Xeon® processors, IBM System Networking she explains. “What I sometimes say is that before our Cardinal Research switches, Mellanox switches and four Cluster, all we offered was email.” IBM System Storage® DS3500 Express devices. Not having a supercomputing resource meant academic departments The benefit had to build or find their own computing nodes, explains Mike Dyre, The IBM solution doubles the capacity director of research computing at the University of Louisville. of the school’s supercomputer cluster, delivers peak speeds of 40 teraflops, and provides a flexible platform to drive “A researcher who didn’t have funding basically had nothing but a advanced research and future innovation. desktop PC, or perhaps something in the department to use for doing research,” says Dyre. “We had a very uneven implementation to do research, and that’s why we established a centralized computer that’s fairly large and accessible to everyone.” A supercomputer built on IBM solutions, in two phases The university initially tapped federal grants to implement the school’s first centralized and secure high-performance computing center in 2009, says Hancock. Incorporating 312 IBM System x iDataPlex dx340 nodes,
  2. 2. IBM Systems and Technology EducationCase Study the first phase of what became known as the Cardinal Research Cluster delivered a much-needed dose of high-performance computing. And it “I wanted a high- didn’t take long to reach 100 percent utilization. “I wanted a high- performance computing performance computing cluster that would be used to the max, and that’s cluster that would exactly what the university got with IBM,” says Hancock. be used to the max, When additional funding came through for an expansion of the solution, and that’s exactly a primary goal was to achieve greater efficiency and cost effectiveness through a simplified networking and storage strategy. In both phases, what the university researchers examined solutions from IBM and others. “When they voted got with IBM.” on the proposals, IBM was the unanimous choice not just once, but twice,” says Hancock. “Not only were all of the researchers unanimous in —Priscilla Hancock, Ph.D., vice president their decision, all of them were happy. That was pretty amazing.” and chief information officer, University of Louisville The second phase expansion of the Cardinal Research Cluster included 204 IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 class servers featuring Intel Xeon processors paired with IBM System Networking switches, Mellanox switches and four IBM System Storage DS3500 Express devices. IBM Business Partner Sumavi, Inc. assisted with systems integration along with IBM STG Lab Services and Training. “The thing that drew us and the faculty to IBM was the variety of com- puting solutions they had,” says Dyre. “Other vendors wanted to sell us a cluster, but IBM was able to offer a complete package that also integrated the network and the storage as one entity.” The resulting solution delivers 5,052 processing cores with between two and four gigabytes of memory per core. Additional hardware components include IBM System x3650 class servers, which function as the head nodes for the System Storage DS3500 devices with 500 terabytes of shared storage capacity, as well as fourteen general-purpose computation on graphics processing unit (GPGPU) nodes to provide the cluster with additional parallel processing capabilities. On the software side, the Cardinal Research Cluster uses Red Hat Linux and a range of specialized applications such as the MATLAB numerical computing environment and the BLAST algorithm for comparing pri- mary biological sequence information. Storage across the data center is orchestrated with IBM General Purpose File System (GPFS™). 2
  3. 3. IBM Systems and Technology EducationCase Study Powerful performance for diverse computing Solution components needs One of the most significant benefits of the solution is its ability to handle Hardware both massive parallel processing jobs, which involve rapid calculation, as ●● IBM System x® iDataPlex® dx340 and dx360 class servers well as high throughput jobs, where a large amount of addressable ●● IBM System x3650 class servers memory is most critical, says Hancock. ●● IBM System Storage® DS3500 Express ●● IBM System Networking switches In benchmark tests, the cluster has achieved peak speeds of ●● Intel® Xeon® processors 40 teraflops—40 trillion floating point operations per second, says Dyre. The new switches from IBM and Mellanox, meanwhile, have Software virtually eliminated any previous networking bottlenecks in the system. ●● IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™) ●● Red Hat Linux This has in turn freed up researchers to submit increasingly more com- plex jobs. “We’ve more than doubled our capacity as far as the number Services of cores and we have more than tripled the storage capacity,” says Dyre. ●● IBM STG Lab Services and Training “And what’s great is that it’s being fully utilized. When we talk about people submitting thousands of jobs, they literally submit 10,000 jobs at once and so the cluster runs all the time. We’re not having any trouble finding any people to use it.” IBM gave University of Louisville a Shared University Research (SUR) Award to help further its research efforts. This award includes the donation of extra computing systems and gives the university access to IBM engineers who work closely with the university’s IT staff to get maximum performance from the supercomputer. A partnership built on shared goals Hancock says working with IBM has allowed her to provide university researchers with everything they need to conduct important work such as discovering new types of cancer drugs and treatments. And even after the implementation was complete, IBM continues to be available. “IBM gave us a very fair offer, they stayed with it from start to finish, and they’re still here,” says Hancock. “IBM wants to make sure it works for us. And even if something goes wrong, they have stayed at the table until everyone is satisfied.” Dyre couldn’t agree more: “I think we’re in a pretty good spot right now with IBM. We’re happy with the product we have, we’re happy with the service we’re getting, and we’re happy with the reps we have. What more can you ask for?” 3
  4. 4. For more informationContact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner,or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/x/hardwareFor more information about the University of Louisville,visit: louisville.eduFor more information about Sumavi, visit: sumavi.com© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012IBM Systems and Technology GroupRoute 100Somers, New York 10589Produced in the United States of AmericaMarch 2012IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, iDataPlex, and System x are trademarks of InternationalBusiness Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other productand service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list ofIBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” atibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtmlIntel, the Intel logo, Xeon and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in theU.S. and other countries.Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries,or both.This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changedby IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in whichIBM operates.The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposesonly. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations andoperating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operationof any other products or programs with IBM products and programs.THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS”WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDINGWITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FORA PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OFNON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms andconditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Please Recycle XSC03122-USEN-00

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