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Colorado: Is the fourth time the charm?

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SC10 On the Sunday before the Student Cluster Competition kicks off, we went around and visited the various teams. The Colorado team (SCC video) is no stranger to these competitions, they've been here before - four times before. While they've seen some success, winning the LINPACK crown (no actual crown), they've never won the big trophy (there isn't any trophy of any size).

However, this might change in 2010. Their experience, along with some hot hardware, might make the difference between competing and winning. The Buffalos, aided by their sponsors, have put together a Dell AMD Magny Cours based cluster that relies on Infiniband from Mellanox and PCIe SSD storage from FusionIO.

The folks I talked to were divided on whether SSD storage makes much difference. Some say that the benchmarks aren't storage intensive to the point where ultra-speedy SSDs would pay dividends.

Others (mainly the teams utilizing SSDs) believe that using them as scratch disks speeds their processing and increases overall throughput. One thing that they all agree on is that solid state disks use less power and generate less heat - definitely a positive given the 26 amp limitation on configurations.

We'll also see how AMD's premier chip stacks up against Intel's best. Do the extra 6 cores from Magny Cours deliver the goods? Colorado had a chance to evaluate both and gave AMD the nod - was this the right call? We'll know more at the end of the day tomorrow when teams turn in their LINPACK results. Stay tuned...

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