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Bull lands 200 teraflop German super deal

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French server maker and reseller Bull has just become prime contractor for a 200-teraflops cluster called Juropa being installed at Forschungszentrum Jülich. This is a government-sponsored research center located in the German city of Jülich, where some of the most powerful HPC iron in the world warms feet.

The cluster at the German HPC lab will be a mix of Bull NovaScale rack-mounted servers, and X64 blade servers manufactured by Sun Microsystems. The Novascale servers are based on Intel's Xeon X64 processors and support Linux, Windows, and Bull's GCOS mainframe environment.

The Juropa project - short for Jülich Research on Petaflops Architectures - chose its prototype cluster platform in June 2007, based on IBM System x servers using Intel's dual-core "Woodcrest" Xeons. This is an interconnect made by Quadrics (part of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica). The project also includes cluster management software from ParTec, which is located in Munich.

This time around, the mix of Bull and Sun iron will be based on Intel's forthcoming eight-core "Nehalem" Xeon processors - IBM did not get the hardware deal. Bull did not say what interconnect it has chosen for the kicker Juropa cluster, but the prototype used a variant of the Quadrics QsNet-II protocol that rides atop 10 Gigabit Ethernet links called QsTenG. The organization said that the future production system would be based on the QsNet-III protocol, which can scale up to 16,384 nodes.

Sun is kicking in its Zettabyte File System for Solaris 10 and Linux, in addition to supplying the Nehalem blade servers. It also last September picked up the Lustre cluster file system, an open source file system for HPC clusters.

Forschungszentrum Jülich says that the new iron, installed in early 2009, will boost performance on the Juropa machine by a factor of 20. The center is also a big user of IBM's BlueGene massively-parallel PowerPC-Linux supercomputer, and currently has number six on the Top 500 list with a 65,536 core monster rated at a sustained performance of 222.8 teraflops. ®

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