IBM Systems and Technology Group                                                                                          ...
IBM Systems and Technology Group                                                                                          ...
IBM Systems and Technology Group                                                                                          ...
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Durham University gains new insight into the evolution of the universe

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To maintain its position at the forefront of international research, the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University wanted to develop a new high-performance computing cluster that would enable even more sophisticated simulations of the universe. With constraints on data centre space, power and cooling, the Institute looked to base the new cluster on compact, energy-efficient technologies. They Worked with OCF and IBM to design and deploy COSMA4, a 25 teraflop cluster based on water-cooled IBM System x iDataPlex servers with 2,640 Intel Xeon cores. IBM System Storage DS3500 hardware provides 610 TB of storage capacity, which is managed by the IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS) and IBMTivoli Storage Manager. For more information on Storage System, visit http://ibm.co/LIg7gk.

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Durham University gains new insight into the evolution of the universe

  1. 1. IBM Systems and Technology Group EducationDeep Computing Durham University gains new insight into the evolution of the universe Building an eco-friendly high-performance computing cluster for cosmology research with IBM System x iDataPlex Durham University is the third oldest university in England after Overview Oxford and Cambridge, and has been a leading European centre of learning for over 1,000 years. With more than 14,000 students and Business challenge 3,800 staff, the University’s 16 colleges provide degree courses in a wide To maintain its position at the forefront of international research, the Institute for range of subjects across three faculties: Arts and Humanities, Social Computational Cosmology at Durham Science and Health, and Science. University wanted to develop a new high-performance computing cluster that Established in 2002, the University’s Institute for Computational would enable even more sophisticated simulations of the universe. With Cosmology has become a leading international centre for research constraints on data centre space, power into the origin and evolution of the universe, using high-performance and cooling, the Institute looked to base computing (HPC) clusters to simulate cosmological events and answer the new cluster on compact, energy- efficient technologies. some of the most fundamental questions in science: What were the first objects in the Universe? How do galaxies form? What is the nature of Solution dark matter and dark energy? Where does the large-scale structure of Working with OCF and IBM, the Institute designed and deployed COSMA4, a 25 the universe come from? What is the fate of the Universe? teraflop cluster based on water-cooled IBM® System x® iDataPlex® servers with “Along with engaging the general public and helping people to 2,640 Intel Xeon cores. IBM System understand their place in the cosmos, our research helps raise the Storage® DS3500 hardware provides 610 TB of storage capacity, which is managed profile of science in general,” says Professor Carlos Frenk, Director of by the IBM General Parallel File System™ the Institute for Computational Cosmology. “It serves as an important and IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager. factor in motivating young people to become scientists. There are also technological spin-offs of our work, in the form of better numerical algorithms and novel solutions to problems which have applications in many areas other than cosmology.” Computational cosmology Since its foundation, the Institute has run its simulations on a series of HPC clusters known as COSMA. COSMA2 and COSMA3 were both based on Sun servers and storage and the Solaris operating system, but as the field of computational cosmology developed, the need for a larger-scale solution became evident. “The level of detail in the models we use is continually increasing, so there’s a perpetual need for more processor power and data storage,” says Dr Lydia Heck, Senior Computer Manager. “In addition to running our own projects, we are also part of an international
  2. 2. IBM Systems and Technology Group EducationDeep Computing cosmology consortium called Virgo, which unites HPC resources from Business Benefits around the world to run simulations based on hundreds of terabytes of data. To meet these needs, we decided to build COSMA4 – a new • Enables simulations of universe models cluster that would provide at least 500 TB of storage and 25 teraflops of that provide unprecedented levels of detail – down to the level of galaxies, stars processing power.” and potentially even planets. • Performs seven times faster than Choosing the right partners COSMA3, and 50 times faster than The Institute received proposals from eight leading vendors, including COSMA2, which has now been Dell, HP and Viglen, as well as a joint bid from IBM and OCF, a decommissioned. specialist provider of HPC server and storage clusters. • Uses the same amount of electricity as COSMA2, and does not require air cooling “What we liked about the IBM offer was that it could deliver all the – reducing overall data centre energy infrastructure – servers, storage and software – from a single vendor,” consumption by 60 kW. comments Dr Heck. “We had allowed vendors to bid for the different • Achieves a Linpack benchmark of 91 elements separately, but the advantages of a coherent single-vendor percent efficiency, delivering more than strategy were clear. We had also worked with OCF before, and we had 400 megaflops per Watt. It is currently the UK’s greenest supercomputer and would been impressed with the level of service they offered.” make 19th place on the November 2010 worldwide Green500 list. Rapid, successful delivery • Helps Durham play a leading role in The OCF team worked with the Institute’s in-house HPC specialists to national and international supercomputing deliver, install and test the COSMA4 cluster. OCF used the PRINCE2 consortia such as Virgo – utilising multiple methodology to manage the project, which helped to accelerate the supercomputers to work on very large- scale cosmology projects. testing phase and prepare COSMA4 for go-live in record time. OCF also provided comprehensive training on the new IBM technologies, and will continue to support the infrastructure in accordance with a detailed service level agreement. “The hardware and software integration from OCF was very smooth,” says Dr Heck. “The OCF team is very knowledgeable, and provided four days of invaluable intensive training on the system.” Exploring the infrastructure From the server perspective, COSMA4 is built on 220 IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 M3 servers, each of which contains two Intel® Xeon® X5650 processors running at 2.67 GHz. Each processor has six cores, which add up to a total of 2,640 cores across the whole cluster. The servers are supported by a storage infrastructure based around eight IBM System Storage DS3500 disk systems, which provide 620 TB of storage capacity. The IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS) is used to provide rapid parallel access for multiple users, while IBM Tivoli Storage Manager handles backups, and may also be used for policy- based archiving for long-term storage in the near future. “The IBM infrastructure has two vital advantages,” comments Dr Heck. “First, the iDataPlex architecture provides a very dense compute capacity in a small physical footprint, so it gives us a huge increase in performance compared to our previous clusters without requiring a move to a larger data centre. Second, it is water-cooled, which significantly reduces the need for air conditioning, reducing energy costs and improving our green computing profile.”
  3. 3. IBM Systems and Technology Group EducationDeep Computing Space and energy The iDataPlex and DS3500 racks are fitted with IBM Rear Door Heat Solution Components eXchanger technology, which passes the hot air generated by the disks Software and processors over a series of sealed coils filled with chilled water. As • IBM® General Parallel File System™ a result, the air expelled from the back of the rack is 3 °C colder than • IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager the data centre’s ambient temperature, enabling the Institute to retire Servers three of its seven air conditioning units and use the remaining units less • IBM System x® iDataPlex® intensively. • IBM System Storage® DS3500 IBM Business Partner “Our data centre has an upper limit on energy consumption so it was • OCF essential we procured a powerful but well balanced and energy-efficient machine,” says Dr Heck. “Although COSMA4 is 50 times faster than the COSMA2 cluster which it replaced, it only draws about the same “Our new server and amount of power. It also doesn’t require any air conditioning, so we save about 60 kW in total data centre energy consumption.” storage cluster gives us the ability to experiment Green computing with vast, sophisticated According to Linpack benchmarks, COSMA4 is currently running at 91 per cent efficiency, and has an energy efficiency of over 400 models of the universe megaflops per Watt of energy consumed. This level of energy efficiency and answer fundamental makes it currently the greenest supercomputer in the UK, and would questions about our cosmic put it in 19th place on the November 2010 worldwide Green500 list. environment.” Massive performance Most important of all, COSMA4 is seven times faster than its — Professor Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham predecessor, COSMA3, which means that researchers at the Institute University and their international collaborators can run more complex and sophisticated simulations of the cosmos. Professor Frenk comments: “It is very difficult to test theories about the universe using traditional methods, as the scale is so large and the algorithms are so complex. Our new server and storage cluster gives us the ability to experiment with vast, sophisticated models of the universe and answer fundamental questions about our cosmic environment – how does gravity operate, for example, and how does the Universe expand?” Making an international contribution COSMA4 already has 100 registered users and 240 TB of data, and is preparing for a number of major international projects with other supercomputing centres both within the UK and internationally. Dr Heck concludes: “The launch of COSMA4 helps Durham University maintain its status as one of the world’s leading cosmology research centres, and enables us to play a major role in national and international HPC initiatives such as the Virgo consortium. The projects we run on COSMA4, whether they are internal or in partnership with other academic institutions, are helping us to reveal some of the universe’s oldest mysteries.”
  4. 4. For more informationTo learn more about IBM software, contact your IBM salesrepresentative or visit: ibm.comTo learn more about products, services and solutions from OCF, visit:ocf.co.uk© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011IBM United Kingdom LimitedPO Box 41North HarbourPortsmouthHampshirePO6 3AUProduced in the United KingdomMay 2011All Rights ReservedIBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, General Parallel File System, iDataPlex, SystemStorage, System x and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business MachinesCorporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBMtrademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at:ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml.Intel, the Intel logo, and Xeon are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/orother countries.Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks ofothers.IBM and OCF are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products.Neither IBM nor OCF makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning theother’s products.References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not implythat IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Anyreference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that onlyIBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product,program or service may be used instead.All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM productsand the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performancecharacteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations andconditions.IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts.In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previouslyinstalled. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply.This publication is for general guidance only.Photographs may show design models. Please Recycle DCC03012-GBEN-01

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