Linux (Beowulf) High Performance Cluster RFP
The University of South Alabama requests proposals for a Beowulf High Performance
Compute Cluster (HPCC) based on the LINUX operating system, to be used in various
research activities. Primary uses of this HPCC include the development of models for
meteorology and other earth sciences and performing simulations of atmospheric
phenomena (specifically hurricanes) using off-the-shelf numerical weather prediction
models such as MM5 and WRF. It is the intent of this RFP to acquire a complete, fully
functional (“turn-key”) HPCC. Vendor is to provide all essential hardware, operating
software, installation services, and subsequent hardware and software maintenance.
I. Vendor qualifications and references
Vendor may be an equipment manufacturer, reseller, or systems integrator. Vendor
must be authorized by manufacturer to sell and support all equipment provided under
Vendors should have a demonstrated ability to provide, install, and support HPCC
equipment and document this ability in their response to this RFP.
Vendors shall provide at least three references from purchasers of HPCC equipment,
at least one of which must be of similar configuration to the equipment proposed by
vendor. It is desirable that at least one reference be from a site conducting
meteorological or other research equivalent to that intended by the University.
II. Compiler support
Vendor is to provide the following compilers:
1. Fortran compiler compatible with Fortran 95 and Fortran 77 and supporting
programming for a HPCC.
2. C++ compiler supporting multi-processor programming for a HPCC.
III. HPCC Management System
The system shall include a management tool for the HPCC such as ROCKS. Vendor
shall specify management tool to be provided.
IV. The HPCC must support the following software systems.
1. WRF: Weather Research and Forecasting Model
Including two dynamical solvers: the Advanced Research WRF (ARW) developed
and maintained by the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division of NCAR,
and the nonhydrostatic Mesoscale Model (NMM) developed by the National
Centers for Environmental Prediction with user support provided by the
Developmental Testbed Center.
Further information is available at http://wrf-model.org
2. The MM5 mesoscale model from the Penn Pennsylvania State University / National
Center for Atmospheric Research.
Further information is available at http://www.mmm.ucar.edu/mm5.
V. Benchmarks/System Performance Measurements
Responses should include industry-standard benchmarks or other indicators of expected
system performance. Processor performance measurements should include the SPEC
CPU2000 Suite, including CINT2000 and CFP2000. SPEC CPU2006 equivalent
benchmarks are desirable, if available.
VI. Target System
The University has not established formal benchmark criteria for this procurement, but
we have identified a target system to establish the level of desired performance.
Vendors may propose alternate processor architectures which provide comparable or
superior performance or value.
1. Compute Node Processors : thirty-six (36) processors each with the following
Two Intel™ Xeon 5320 Quad Core Processors, 8MB Cache, 1.86GHz processor
speed, 8GB RAM, 1066MHZ FSB
2. Master Node with the following specifications:
Two Intel™ Xeon 5320 Quad Core Processors, 8MB Cache, 1.86GHz processor
speed, 8GB RAM, 1066MHZ FSB
3. Interconnect Networks:
Management network shall be Gigabit Ethernet or higher.
Computational network shall be a higher performance network at the level of
Myrinet , Inifiniband, etc.
Vendor shall provide all switching equipment, fiber and copper cabling, etc., for
implementation of the management and computational network.
4. Console Management
It is desired that a KVM switch or other mechanism, in addition to network access,
be provided for console access to all nodes for trouble-shooting or other out-of-band
The HPCC shall include at least two console terminals for concurrent access to the
management node and any given compute node through the KVM switch (or
5. Storage Systems:
The system shall include appropriate storage for nodal system start-up and
operation, whether dedicated internal hard drives or SAN. Responses should include
specifications for this storage.
For research data storage, vendor shall provide an appropriate high-performance
NAS storage system with RAID 5 support. The storage system should include a
hot spare drive unit for each RAID 5 array. All drive units are to be hot-swappable.
Drives may be SAS or SATA 3.0 Gbit/s or equivalent performance technology. The
storage system must support NFS. The desired configuration consists of two RAID
5 arrays, each with approximately 10TBytes of raw storage. Vendor responses shall
include full specification of the storage system, including throughput performance
6. Tape Backup:
The system shall include an LTO-3 or comparable capacity single tape drive backup
unit for making permanent tape copies of production run data and various system
configuration information. Drive shall either be rack-mounted or may be placed on a
shelf, installed within the system racks, and include appropriate cabling or network
Software to permit selective backup and restore of individual files or project folders
shall be included.
Vendor responses should include specification of capacity and backup times for this
tape unit and software.
7. All components and equipment to be provided under this RFP are to be new and
eligible for manufacturer’s warranty and maintenance contracts.
VII. Physical Architecture and Packaging
1. All components (processors, private network switches, storage systems, etc.) are to
be installed in industry-standard racks provided by vendor.
2. Processor nodes may be implemented as blade architecture or individual rack-
mounted units. Preference may be given to implementations which facilitate
hardware removal and replacement when repairs are necessary.
VIII. Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
1. The system shall include a UPS providing adequate run-time for an orderly
shutdown in the event of external power failure. At least a 30 minute run-time
capability is desired.
2. The UPS shall be rack-mounted. Responses should include specification of power
interconnects (plug type and capacity) required to connect this to University power.
IX. Warranty and Maintenance
1. Vendor shall provide toll-free 24x7 telephone technical support for the HPCC.
Support for the core system and critical components shall be 7x24 with 4-hour on-
site response. Compute nodes may individually be on Next Business Day on-site
2. Vendors shall quote three-year’s support in responses.
3. Compilers and operating systems are to have vendor support and
update/maintenance coverage for the three-year period.
4. Vendor shall specify any remote monitoring or access support to be provided, and
specify any networking requirements required for this.
X. Environmental and Power Requirements
Responses shall specify all environmental requirements for proposed system, including
power requirements (startup and continuous), power connections required (including
plug types), footprint and access space requirements, cooling loads, and any other
environmental requirements anticipated by vendor.
XI. Shipping, Local Delivery, and Setup
Pricing will be FOB the University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, and include
delivery to the designated installation site; unloading, uncrating, and assembly on site
by vendor; and shipping insurance as required by vendor.
RFP responses should include anticipated delivery and installation schedules after
receipt of a Purchase Order from the University. The University desires a delivery
schedule not to exceed 90 days ARO.
XII. University site preparation requirements
1. The University will be responsible for providing an appropriate location for the
equipment, including power, heating/cooling, and necessary operating and access
2. The University will provide Gigabit Ethernet switching ports for interconnection of
the HPCC to the University networks and the Internet.
XIII. Installation and Acceptance Testing
Vendor is to install, configure, and conduct on-site testing to ensure system meets
vendor’s specifications and benchmarks. Vendor’s response to this RFP should specify
the acceptance testing to be performed.
Payment will be Net 30 after completion of installation and acceptance testing to the
satisfaction of the University.
XIV. On-Site Engineering Support
1. Responses should include two weeks on-site of an engineer or HPCC computer
specialist to provide training and consultative support in the operation of the HPCC
system. Anticipated travel costs are to be included.
2. Responses should include specification of the technical competencies of personnel
to be provided.
XV. Format of vendor responses and alternate proposals
1. Vendors may submit multiple alternate proposals.
2. Vendors are to provide four (4) complete copies of any proposals, including any
XVI. Evaluation of RFPs
1. Responses shall be evaluated on a number of factors. These factors may include
vendor’s demonstrated competency to deliver and support the HPCC; overall quality
and clarity of vendor’s response to the RFP; performance and flexibility of the
proposed HPCC; value and price. Other factors may be included by the University.
2. The University may engage external independent consultants to evaluate the
XVII. University contact information
1. The University Purchasing Office will provide a cover document which specifies
dates and addresses for submission of responses.
2. Vendors may submit questions regarding this RFP to the following. Email is
Dr. Sytske Kimball, Associate Professor of Meteorology
Dept. of Earth Sciences
University of South Alabama
Phone: (251) 460-7031
fax: (251) 460-7886
3. The University urges vendors interested in responding to this RFP to establish
contact with Dr. Kimball as soon as possible. Vendors who have done so will be
sent any clarifications or updates to the RFP.
XVIII. Electronic Copy of RFP Specifications
For Vendor convenience, an electronic copy of portions of the RFP specifications will
be available at https://jagmail.usouthal.edu/downloads/hpccrfp.doc in Microsoft
Word™ format. Vendors are reminded that the complete, official RFP is issued by the
University Purchasing Department and will contain critical information not in the
electronic document. The RFP as issued by Purchasing, and any subsequent corrections
or additions, are authoritative in the event of discrepancies with the electronic copy.