NCSA REPORTS EARLY INTEL ITANIUM PERFORMANCE LEVELS

November 9, 2000

FEATURES & COMMENTARY LIVEwire

Dallas, Texas — A team of researchers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) has ported four high-performance research codes to Intel’s forthcoming Itanium processor family. The codes have already achieved record performance levels on an Itanium-based server.

NCSA’s cluster development team has been working with the Intel Itanium architecture for several months in collaboration with IBM and Intel Corporation. The four codes are: sPPM; (for simplified Piecewise Parabolic Method), MILC; (for MIMD Lattice Computation); Cactus; and a version of the General Atomic and Molecular Electronic Structure System (GAMESS).

Preliminary results show that sPPM, Cactus, and MILC have all achieved in excess of 650 megaflops on a single processor in a prototype Itanium-based server running 64-bit Linux. sPPM is used primarily in astrophysics and defense applications. Cactus is a parallel toolkit used in astrophysics and several other scientific disciplines. MILC is a code used by a nationwide group of physicists at nine academic institutions who study some of the most fundamental questions of the universe.

“Seeing this level of performance on pilot systems shows that our collaborative efforts are already paying off,” said Rob Pennington, head of NCSA’s cluster development efforts and division director of Computing and Communications at NCSA. “These early positive results confirm what we have been anticipating from the beginning: the Intel Itanium processor is going to be one of the key platforms in high-performance computing .”

Paul Woodward, a National Computational Science Alliance researcher at the University of Minnesota who uses sPPM on NCSA computing systems, said he has run sPPM on a variety of systems, and the Itanium-based system outperforms them all.

“My group has tested the performance of the sPPM code on a wide variety of microprocessors and the Itanium processor is significantly better than any other processor we’ve tested,” said Woodward. “We have a highly scalable code and we expect performance on large Itanium-based clusters to be excellent.”

Astrophysicist Ed Seidel and the Cactus team at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany, have run Cactus on a number of systems and have seen its best performance on the Itanium-based system.

“Our very complex calculations for black hole collisions can be carried out faster and on larger scales than ever before, leading to the more accurate predictions of gravitational wave signals needed to better understand Einstein’s theories,” said Seidel.

Steven Gottlieb, a member of the MILC collaboration at Indiana University, referring to the 6^4 lattice results, added, “The early performance levels are a good sign for the nationwide MILC collaboration. We are working on one of the most numerically demanding applications in scientific computation. We are quite pleased with these early results.”

In addition, a collaboration among Intel, Moscow State University, and NCSA has yielded exceptional results on a Microsoft 64-bit Windows-based prototype1 Itanium cluster. Alex Granovsky and his team at Moscow State developed a version of the General Atomic and Molecular Electronic Structure System (GAMESS) ab initio quantum chemistry program and have ran it successfully on an eight-processor Itanium-based server cluster at NCSA. The GAMESS code is from Iowa State University and the Department of Energy’s Ames National Laboratory.

“This set of four dual processor Itanium(tm)-based servers achieved over 12 gigaflops on a single energy, MP4 calculation,” said Raghu Murthi, Director of Intel’s Enterprise Platform Marketing Group. “We’re pleased that leading supercomputing researchers at NCSA will be using this performance to drive high-performance computing to new levels.”

sPPM, Cactus, and several other codes are being demonstrated on an Itanium processor-based cluster in the Alliance research booth at SC2000. Stop by the booth (R804) for information on demo times.

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications is the leading-edge site for the National Computational Science Alliance. NCSA is a leader in the development and deployment of cutting-edge high-performance computing, networking, and information technologies. The National Science Foundation, the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, industrial partners, and other federal agencies fund NCSA.

The National Computational Science Alliance is a partnership to prototype an advanced computational infrastructure for the 21st century and includes more than 50 academic, government and industry research partners from across the United States. The Alliance is one of two partnerships funded by the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program, and receives cost-sharing at partner institutions. NSF also supports the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI), led by the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

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