FSL CHOOSES ALPHA LINUX CLUSTER FOR SUPERCOMPUTER

September 24, 1999

SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS

Reston, VA – One of the fastest computer systems in the world has just been acquired by the Department of Commerce to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) further improve existing weather forecast models and develop new ones, Commerce Secretary William M. Daley announced. The $15 million contract has been awarded to High Performance Technologies, Inc. (HPTi) of Reston, Va., to provide a High Performance Computing System to NOAA’s Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL), located in Boulder, Colorado.

“This acquisition will help researchers improve forecasts of severe weather such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter storms, and ultimately, to save lives and property,” said Daley. “It will also provide a boost to the American supercomputing industry,” he added.

When the system is first installed, it will be running a third of a trillion arithmetic operations per second, providing a computer system that is 20 times more powerful than the computer system the Forecast System Laboratory presently uses. By the final upgrade in 2002, the HPTi supercomputer will be processing about four TeraFLOPS of data or four trillion arithmetic computations per second.

HPTi will be delivering a solution for the Forecast Systems Lab by integrating the best of proven technologies, a “best of breed” approach. HPTi was founded in 1992 to facilitate the infusion of advanced high performance computing (HPC) technology into the broader information technology (IT) marketplace, while applying the discipline learned from the IT marketplace back to the HPC community. During these seven years HPTi has seen significant growth, expanding as a small business from four to over 180 employees. The basis of its successful growth is performance for its clients and a focus on Creative Application of Emerging Information Technologies, its core capability. Like the system for FSL, HPTi’s experience is in working with “Extreme Systems,” large, complex, and fast.

For the FSL HPCS solution, HPTi has four teammates: Compaq, University of Virginia (UVa), Myricom, and Patuxent Technology Partners (PTP). Compaq provides the core computational system, the Alpha, extensive experience with installed large clusters, and the commitment to a clustered approach for their next-generation systems. Myricom is the provider of the high performance processor interconnect that enables the system to scale thousands of processors. PTP is providing an integrated storage solution from their experience in Storage Area Networks. UVa was the site of HPTi’s benchmarking activities and hosted the live test demonstration to NOAA and FSL representatives. Direct and client related relationships with UVa have focused on the application of advanced cluster technologies in HPC.

Don Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of HPTi said, “We are very excited about the opportunity to deliver this new system architecture to FSL. HPTi has a solid tradition of providing our customers with innovative solutions based on emerging technologies such as Linux, Alpha and Myricom. The FSL system is consistent with that tradition. It is also consistent with FSL’s tradition of innovative uses of HPC for weather forecasting research. We look forward to working with FSL in implementing this world-class supercomputing system to improve our weather forecasts.”

David Rhoades, Director of High Performance Systems Integration at HPTi said, “This is a solution in HPTi’s tradition of integrating extreme systems that work for our clients. We, along with our partners at Compaq, the University of Virginia, PTP, and Myricom have now demonstrated the superior performance of scalable systems. The FSL system will prove that scalable clusters are ready for production applications and this procurement will continue in its tradition as a leader in the application of scalable systems.”

Luke Lonergan, Technical Director of HPTi said, “We believe these clustered scalable systems represent the future of supercomputing. We have now demonstrated that these systems are able to solve real-world supercomputing problems today, not just in the future. These systems, facilitated by such technologies such as Compaq’s Alpha chip, the high performance processor interconnect from Myricom, and the storage area network (SAN), will revolutionize high-performance computing. Today FSL has demonstrated their desire to assume leadership in this technological revolution.”

Ty Rabe, Director of High Performance Computing Marketing at Compaq said, “Compaq’s ‘Better Answers’ is not merely an advertising statement, it represents a mindset and commitment to our clients. We partnered with HPTi to provide a technologically superior solution to FSL. With this announcement Compaq demonstrates its commitment to providing Linux-based supercomputing systems, initially including Sandia’s CPlant project, and now FSL. Compaq views these scalable Linux systems as an important part of our total supercomputing solutions package.”

Andrew Grimshaw, Associate Professor of Computer Science, and Director of the Institute for Parallel Computation at the University of Virginia said, “UVa is committed to partner with our Virginia-based businesses. In this case we worked with HPTi to demonstrate the effectiveness of cluster computing in their bid to the Forecasting Systems Lab (FSL). We believe that scalable clustered systems and UVa’s metacomputing initiatives work hand-in-hand to provide the supercomputing marketplace with computational superiority and operational ease-of-use. The partnership with HPTi in demonstrating the capabilities of clusters is an outgrowth of UVa’s commitment to leadership in providing technological advancements in the supercomputing arena.”

Nan Boden, Director of Sales at Myricom said, “Myricom is excited to be a part of the FSL win. Our Myrinet product has proven itself in the field, and we are confident that FSL will be pleased with its performance. We are excited about the future of scalable systems, and believe that the combination of the Compaq Alpha processor and Myrinet is an excellent marriage. Myricom is committed to continue its leadership in providing the highest performance scalable processor connectivity fabric. We anticipate to continue to improve performance and lower cost over the next twelve months, and over the life of the FSL contract.”

Martin Williams, President of Patuxent Technology Partners (PTP) said, “PTP has demonstrated our expertise in storage technology integration in very challenging data environments. We are excited to have leveraged our expertise and teamed with HPTi on the win at FSL. We believe that the leading edge SAN and the robotic mass storage will provide FSL with superior storage technology.”

Further details of this contract are included in the Public Affairs announcement available from NOAA http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/releases99/sep99/noaa99061.html

For more information visit http://www.hpti.com/clusterweb

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