Feeds

Massed x86 ranks 'blowing away' supercomputer monoliths

Dell pitches modular parallel processors

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

It's all money in the end

A lab scientist costs £100k/year. You can double that for an experiment. He has 300 users and they cost £60m/year. The move from Sun to Dell and a tenfold performance increase must have improved the output of his users. "It's all money in the end, taxpayers' money."

Calleja upgrades his hardware every two years on a rolling procurement and keeps hardware for four years. He delivers core hours to his users and has to continually demonstrate to them that paying for his core hours is cheaper than buying their own compute facilities. He said: "We're the only fully cost-centred HPC centre in the country not relying on subsidy. We have 80 percent paying users and we're breaking even."

Why Dell? It's cheaper and extremely reliable compared to competing suppliers. He's experienced a 1 percent electronic component failure rate in two years.

He's limited by power and space constraints. Calleja is upgrading now and is deploying 50 percent more compute power for 15 percent more electricity, adding 10 percent to his space footprint and the new kit is 20 percent of the original capital cost. That means he lowers his cost per core and offers his users better value core hours.

He said there are three research pillars: experiment; theory; and simulation. Simulation, using a supercomputer, enables you to go places you can't get to by experimentation. The need for simulation is horizontal across science.

Research applications now use shared and open source code that can be parameterised to provide the specific code set needed by researchers, whose time is not best spent writing code. That has become too specialised a job.

Datasets are kept in the data centre, inside the firewall, and users come to the HPC mountain instead of the HPC mountain coming to users, with massive data set transfers across network links between users and the HPC lab.

Looking ahead

Calleja has two steps on his processor roadmap. He's looking forward first of all to Nehalem blade servers, 4-core Xeon 5500s, with possibilities for 6- and 8-core ones. The second step is to Sandy Bridge, Intel's next architecture after Nehalem which, he says, will run 8 operations per clock cycle instead of Nehalem's 4.

The blade servers will provide many more cores per rack, driving up the heat output, and he's anticipating moving to back-of-rack water cooling

He's thinking of setting up a solid state drive capacity pool for HPC applications that need the IOPS rates that SSDs can deliver, but SSD pricing has to come down to make this worthwhile. Lustre meta data might be stored in an SSD pool.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Object storage bods Exablox: RAID is dead, baby. RAID is dead
Bring your own disks to its object appliances
Nimble's latest mutants GORGE themselves on unlucky forerunners
Crossing Sandy Bridges without stopping for breath
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.