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Cluster takes third in supercomputer benchmark

Jul 01, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Cluster of 2,304 Intel processors is third-fastest supercomputer

A supercomputer consisting of 2,304 Intel processor-based machines became the third-fastest supercomputer on record last month, surpassed only by servers from NEC and HP.

The clustered supercomputer – made by Linux Networx and called the MCR by its owner, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – processes 7.6 trillion calculations per second (teraflops) using the Linpack benchmark. MCR stands for Multiprogrammatic Capability Cluster. The supercomputer is also, by Linux Networx’s claims, the fastest Linux cluster in the world.

The MCR performed at this rate in tests to be listed on the 21st TOP500 List of supercomputers >, which was started in 1993 to track supercomputer performance.

The Linpack benchmark is a series of Fortran routines that solve linear equations. The NEC supercomputer owned by the Earth Simulation Center in Yokohama, Japan, performs at more than 35 teraflops, while the AlphaServer SC owned by Los Alamos National Laboratories performs at more than 13 teraflops.

Lawrence Berkeley uses its cluster to run experiments of physical phenomena, including earthquakes, global climate modeling and other large-scale events.

MCR uses 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon processors interconnected using gear from Quadrics. The Quadrics equipment consists of a PCI adapter installed in each server that connects to other servers via a Quadrics 16-port switch and RMS software to manage the interconnected hardware.

Quadrics says three of the top five supercomputers use its interconnect product.

Each node in the cluster has 4G bytes of RAM and 120G bytes of disk space, for an aggregate of 4.6 terabytes of memory and 115.2 terabytes of disk space. They are connected to a Blue Arc Si7500 storage system with 115 terabytes of disk space.

Each node also contains a Quadrics QsNet ELAN3 adapter, a hardware interconnect that provides 340M bytes of bandwidth per second in each direction.

The laboratory uses a device from Linux Networx called the ICE Box for systems management

Individual nodes run LinuxBIOS and Cluster File Systems’ Lustre Open Source file system for clustering machines.

Intel further announced that there are 119 Intel-based systems on the TOP500. Of those, 19 use the Itanium processor.