IntelXeonprocessor 5600 series raises the profile of Marie Curie-Skodowska University on the internationalresearch stage Marie Curie-Skodowska University recently deployed a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster based on SuperMicro SuperBlade* serversand powered by the Intel Xeon processor 5600 series. Intel architecture provides the performance and flexibility required to support adiverse range of projects, tasks and software codes. Intel compilers were also used to optimize code and deliver even greater performanceincreases. The university is already evaluating the benefits of rolling out an additional HPC cluster based on the Intel Xeon processor E5family.
IntelXeonprocessor 5600 series
Advancing scientific research
A multi-tasking HPC. Marie Curie-Skodowska University needed to deploy an HPC clusterthat was flexible enough to support the differing research needs of its professors andstudents
Best overall performance. The HPC cluster needed to offer exceptional single-core per-formance as well as great scalability across multiple cores for parallel programs
Two new HPC clusters. The university deployed 50 SuperMicro SuperBlade serverspowered by 100 Intel Xeon processors 5600 series in the Faculty of Chemistry and thesame in the Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics
Optimizing the code. Intel compilers were used to optimize software code to deliver evengreater performance on the Intel Xeon processor 5600 series
Speedy research delivery. Professors and students at Marie Curie-Skodowska Universitycan now carry out more complex calculations and simulations much more quickly
Raising international profile. Studies are done more quickly and effectively, enabling theuniversity to publish more research papers, enhancing its international reputation
Solving real-life problems: The university can form closer ties with local industry, makinga name for itself by solving both real-life and theoretical problems
Transforming the status quo
Marie Curie-Skodowska University is the largest university in eastern Poland. Professors andstudents at its 10 academic faculties carry out a wide variety of original research projects.Many of these studies, particularly those carried out in the Faculty of Chemistry and the Facultyof Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, rely heavily on modeling and simulation software.
The Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, for example, regularly researches theelectronic properties of heavy and super heavy items, nuclear fission and the solar system.The Faculty of Chemistry studies molecular dynamics, simulating the physical movements ofatoms and molecules. Usually, this type of work is made possible by HPC clusters with thecapacity to process huge amounts of data.
However, within Marie Curie-Skodowska University it was a different story. Professors andstudents were struggling to carry out their research using one small, shared HPC cluster.Besides being frustrating, this meant projects were delayed since research teams had towait for the HPC cluster to become free before they could start their projects. So when MarieCurie-Skodowska University received a PLN 5 million (USD 1.6 million) investment grant fromthe European Union and Polands Ministry of Science, its top priority was to overhaul itsHPC facilities.
Here at the university, we work
on a diverse range of projects and
tasks that rely on many different
types of codes. For example, the
parallel programs that run our mo-
lecular dynamics research scale well
on multi-core architecture, while
our other applications require
great single-core performance.
Pawe Bryk, Chemistry Lecturer,
Marie Curie-Skodowska University
The key challenge was to find an infrastruc-ture that was able to meet everyones needs,explains Pawe Bryk, chemistry lecturer. Atthe university, we work on a diverse rangeof projects and tasks that rely on many dif-ferent types of codes. For example, the parallelprograms that run our molecular dynamicsresearch scale well on multi-core architecture,while our other applications require greatsingle-core performance.
To help it find a suitable HPC infrastructurethat could deliver the right performance atthe right price, Marie Curie-SkodowskaUniversity turned to local systems integratorFormat. The two already had a long-standingrelationship, with Format regularly supplyingthe university with the latest demonstrationunits for evaluation. In this instance, it recom-mended that the university invest in a newHPC cluster powered by the Intel Xeonprocessor 5600 series.
Bryk explains: After comparing the perform-ance of the Intel Xeon processor 5600 seriesagainst a competitive offering, Format foundthat the Intel system would provide the flex-ibility required to support everyones work.It offers great scalability over multiple coresand, in our opinion, the best single-core per-formance in the marketplace. On top of that,it offers intelligent power management fora lower total cost of ownership. Whats notto like?
He continues: We were also able to achieveeven greater performance increases usingIntel compilers. For example, our Monte Carlocode, which we use to carry out studies into
surface properties to ascertain how differentsurfaces react to fluids and polymers, usesmany mutually independent random numbergenerators. Taking this into account, andusing Intel compilers, we have been able tooptimize this code to deliver even greaterperformance on the Intel Xeon processor5600 series.
With advice from Format and Intel, the uni-versity rolled out two new HPC clusters toaccompany its existing Intel-based HPC. Itdeployed 50 SuperMicro SuperBlade serverspowered by 100 Intel Xeon processors 5600series in the Faculty of Chemistry and thesame in the Faculty of Mathematics, Physicsand Informatics. Both run a Linux* operatingsystem. Since both of these faculties are inthe older buildings at the university, coolingwas also a key consideration.
The rooms in our older buildings have verylow ceilings, meaning that airflow around theHPC clusters is obstructed, explains Bryk.For this reason, we had to introduce water-cooled cabinets to house the HPC cluster.This is a much more efficient process for us,since we dont have to cool the whole room,just the chillers. Also, we can introduce addi-tional servers to the cabinets for very littlecost.
Accelerating academic research
Thanks to the new HPC cluster, professors andstudents at Marie Curie-Skodowska Univer-sity can carry out more complex calculationsand simulations in a much shorter timeframe.Most notably, this is enabling them to formcloser ties with local industry, meaning theuniversity is making a name for itself solvingreal-life problems rather than just theoreticalproblems. For example, the Faculty of Chem-istry is now working with a local firm to de-velop surfaces that decrease friction.
It also means that professors and studentscan carry out their studies more quickly andeffectively, enabling them to publish moreresearch papers. This raises the profile of
Marie Curie-Skodowska University on theinternational stage. Finally, the university cannow provide parallel programming tutorialsto professors and scientists from other insti-tutions around Poland again, helping it tocement its reputation as a leading researchinstitution.
Very recently, Marie Curie-Skodowska Univer-sity secured a second grant from the Euro-pean Union for around PLN 12 million (USD4 million), although the final figure is still tobe confirmed. These funds will go towardspurchasing another large HPC cluster thatwill be installed in the newly built Instituteof Informatics. Researchers from the Facultyof Chemistry and the Faculty of Mathematics,Physics and Informatics will use this newcluster.
According to Bryk, this will be another Intelarchitecture-based cluster. We are alreadylooking at the benefits of the Intel Xeonprocessor E7 family and look forward toevaluating the Intel Xeon processor E5 familywhen the first test units hit the marketplace.Experience has shown that Intel processorsoffer the flexibility we need to supportmultiple users with varying needs, as wellas a steady 20 to 30 percent performanceincrease between generations1.
Find a solution that is right for your organi-zation. Contact your Intel representative orvisit Intels Business Success Stories for ITManagers at www.intel.com/itcasestudies.
Spotlight on Marie Curie-SkodowskaUniversity
The Marie Curie-Skodowska University,located in Lublin, eastern Poland, wasfounded in 1944. Since then, almost180,000 students have graduated, inclu-ding over 27,000 in 2011. The universitycurrently employs 428 professors andaround 1,300 faculty members workingin state-of-the-art laboratories, librariesand modern lecture rooms. It is dividedinto 11 faculties, offering 92 differentmajors. For more information, visit:www.umcs.lublin.pl
Cementing a reputation as a leadingresearch institution
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