Feeds

Massed x86 ranks 'blowing away' supercomputer monoliths

Dell pitches modular parallel processors

High performance access to file storage

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.