The Week in Review
Here is a collection of highlights from this week’s news stream as reported by HPCwire.
Green HPC Center Breaks Ground in Holyoke, Mass.
This week, the Massachusetts high-performance computing collaborative took a big step forward. On Tuesday, participants gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, Mass. The project includes partners from academia and industry, including the State of Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University in Boston, as well as vendors Cisco Systems Inc. and EMC Corp. Local area high school students were in attendance as well, commemorating this important event with a time capsule.
The project has an estimated price tag of $168 million with about $80 million of that going to the datacenter itself. Corporate investors EMC and Cisco are each contributing $2.5 million, the state has pledged $25 million, and the universities will contribute a total of $40 million to the project. The center aims to serve up compute-intensive applications in an environmentally-friendly manner. Areas of research include life sciences, clean energy, climate change, the arts, and more.
Governor Deval Patrick unveiled the site’s location in August, placing it on Bigelow Street in Holyoke’s downtown canal district. The project development team was attracted to Holyoke due to the availability of low-cost hydroelectric power from the Connecticut River.
While the site itself may only create a couple dozen jobs, the real potential is its ability to draw industry into the area, pumping up the overall economy. Governor Patrick explained that the center will serve as a magnet for growth with a potential for creating breakthrough technologies.
In an interview on a public radio station, Patrick was asked by a listener how the HPC center would help stimulate the economy. Here is part of his reply:
If you are in biotech, if you are in clean tech, if you are in pharmaceuticals, you need high performance computing in order to do the modeling for your projects, that’s how it’s done these days.
It’s the biggest, fastest computing center in the eastern part of the country… So when folks say, we got a major project we gotta get done, they’re going to say, we gotta go to Holyoke, that’s a pretty big statement about what it is we’re trying to do here in Western Massachusetts and in the Commonwealth.
The 75-minute event concluded with the unveiling of a sign affixed to the former , which reads: “Future Home of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center.” The center was initially expected to be completed by late 2011, but John T. Goodhue, the interim executive director of the center, said that he expects construction to last until 2012.
The project has an active website – Innovate Holyoke — the official destination for the latest information related to the center.
GENCI Orders World-Class Supercomputer
The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe, PRACE, and GENCI — the French national High-Performance Computing organization — have ordered a new high-performance computing system from supercomputer-maker Bull. The new system will be named Curie, as a tribute to Pierre and Marie Curie, physicists who contributed significantly to our modern scientific understanding.
CEO of GENCI, Catherine Rivière, commented on the announcement:
“Nowadays, intensive computing is a key element in national competitiveness, both in scientific and industrial domains. With technical support from CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives), through a competitive tendering process, we were able to assess the excellence of Bull’s offering. This means we will soon have at our disposal a machine that will offer French and European scientists the resources they need to carry out their research work at the highest possible level in a highly competitive global environment.”
The bullx supercomputer employs a modular, general-purpose architecture capable of 1.6 petaflops to enable a variety of applications in the fields of high-energy physics, chemistry, biology, climate research and medicine. Capable of over one million billion operations a second, the machine is the most powerful European supercomputer ever ordered and would place among the top 3 systems based on current TOP500 rankings.
Curie will have 5,040 blades equipped with the latest Intel Xeon processors, touting a total of 90,000 processors in total. The computer’s I/O system will enable it to store over 10 petabytes of data at speeds of up to 250 GB/s.
Philippe Vannier, chairman and CEO of Bull, weighs in:
“The fact that GENCI has ordered a very large-scale bullx supercomputer to support its involvement in the PRACE program is very satisfying for Bull on two counts. Firstly it demonstrates the excellence that our engineers have achieved in technologies that go into the most powerful supercomputers on the planet. But over and above this, it carries within it the seeds of our own aim: to build a large-scale European ecosystem to support innovation, because we are convinced that technological supremacy is our best asset when it comes to facing up to global competition and ensuring the creation of high-level employment here in Europe.”
Curie is the second petascale supercomputer financed by GENCI (Grand Equipement National de Calcul Intensif), one of the founding members of PRACE. It will be located near Paris and housed in a new computing center, the Très Grand Centre de Calcul (TGCC), operated by CEA (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives). The new supercomputer will extend the PRACE research infrastructure that started with Jugene in Germany, fulfilling PRACE’s goal of providing world-class resources for the European scientific and industrial communities.
The installation of Curie will be completed in two phases: the first before the end of the year and the second in October 2011. The system will be available for European users through the next PRACE call for proposals starting in November 2010.