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September 16, 2010
Trying to fit a model of an entire galaxy inside a computer is even harder than it sounds -- even when that computer is an 800-core cluster with over a terabyte of memory. The researchers at the Durham University's Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) know this well, because that just happens to be what they're trying to do. An article in silicon.com this week documents how cosmologists have to develop creative modeling strategies to deal with the limitations of HPC machines.
ICC researchers have access to a cluster with 800 AMD processor cores, 1.6 TB of memory, and 300 TB of disk storage. That's a decent-sized machine, but for galaxy formation simulations, the researchers are constantly butting up against hardware limitations. Take disk storage, for instance. A single simulation run on the effect of dark matter on galaxy formation can produce 20 TB of data, which mean the scientists are constantly deleting older data or backing it up to tape. And according to the article, the cluster is not big or powerful enough to even handle large scale models:
Physicists have to simplify the cosmological models they use in order to get ones that produce data sets small enough to be accurately processed by the 64-bit chips in the supercomputing cluster, and which can fit into the cluster's available memory.
Nevertheless, this is better than what most cosmologists had available to them even a few years ago. At that time they could only simulate a few thousand particles per galaxy (so each particle had to represent 10,000 to 100,000 stars). Today that granularity is two orders of magnitude better.
Better yet, the Institute is getting a new cluster in December that has a lot more compute power, memory and storage than their current setup. The new hardware will enable the researchers to create higher fidelity models and "get a much more realistic calculation".
Full story at silicon.com
The Xeon Phi coprocessor might be the new kid on the high performance block, but out of all first-rate kickers of the Intel tires, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) got the first real jab with its new top ten Stampede system.We talk with the center's Karl Schultz about the challenges of programming for Phi--but more specifically, the optimization...
Although Horst Simon was named Deputy Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he maintains his strong ties to the scientific computing community as an editor of the TOP500 list and as an invited speaker at conferences.
Supercomputing veteran, Bo Ewald, has been neck-deep in bleeding edge system development since his twelve-year stint at Cray Research back in the mid-1980s, which was followed by his tenure at large organizations like SGI and startups, including Scale Eight Corporation and Linux Networx. He has put his weight behind quantum company....
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The Cray CS300-AC cluster supercomputer offers energy efficient, air-cooled design based on modular, industry-standard platforms featuring the latest processor and network technologies and a wide range of datacenter cooling requirements.