Sun Opens Solution Center for HPC

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 14, 2005

Sun Microsystems Inc. announced the opening of its Sun Solution Center for High Performance Computing (HPC), a cutting-edge facility located in Hillsboro, Ore., that is designed to make HPC practical and attainable for a wide array of customers and partners.

The facility offers customers access to world-class scientists and algorithm experts who specialize in developing and deploying large-scale HPC solutions based on best practices, and also provides them access to some of the highest-performance storage, x64 (x86, 64-bit) and SPARC processor-based systems on the planet. In this unique environment, customers and partners will also have an option of deploying and running their applications on a variety of environments, including the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS), and standard distributions of Linux and Windows. The facility and HPC experts can help customers build and achieve large-scale HPC clusters and data centers as they experiment, benchmark, test and optimize scalable Grid-based applications suitable for industries such as energy, manufacturing, life sciences, education and research.

“Today's announcement marks another milestone in delivering solutions for HPC and supercomputing. By leveraging Sun's decades of innovation and expertise, customers can use the Sun Solution Center for HPC to quickly and cost-effectively deploy large-scale cluster systems. In addition, the power efficiency of our Sun Fire servers powered with SPARC and AMD Opteron processors help make large-scale computing a viable option for many customers. With the recent acquisition of StorageTek, we hope to feature StorageTek products in the lab soon,” said John Fowler, executive vice president of the Network Systems Group at Sun Microsystems. “As HPC capabilities grow from TeraFLOPS today, to PetaFLOPS in the near future, Sun's world-class technologies and the growth of the Sun Solution Center for HPC can help our customers innovate and lead in this market.”

As HPC is becoming more mainstream, Sun recognizes that HPC is not just an esoteric style of computing. In fact, the Sun Solution Center for HPC, open for business today, allows customers and partners from the business and scientific worlds alike to come test and tune their applications. When customers visit the Sun Solution Center for HPC, they will be assisted by experts in the HPC field who have over 200 years of combined experience.

Customers such as Aachen University and Clemson University plan to use the new facility for testing upcoming HPC projects. “With the new Sun Solution Center for HPC we can test and tune our Grid-based applications, leveraging the highest-performance x64 servers in the market,” said Jim Leylek, director and professor of mechanical engineering for the Advanced Computational Research Laboratory (ACRL) at Clemson University. “Through its high-performance, low-cost and easy-to-deploy offerings, Sun is making HPC production ready and accessible.”

The Sun Solution Center for HPC also acts as a Proof-of-Concept facility where customers and partners can simulate their environment by testing and fine-tuning their specific applications to achieve optimal performance. Customers can test and collaborate on HPC solutions through a Grid infrastructure, using Grid-based technologies such as the award-winning Sun N1 Grid Engine and Sun N1 System Manager software for systems management.

A key to the development of the Sun Solution Center for HPC is Sun's powerful and strategic partnerships with AMD, the developer of the AMD Opteron processor, and SilverStorm Technologies, the provider of the center's InfiniBand cluster.

“Collaborating with innovative companies such as Sun to develop state-of-the-art solutions that can later be deployed in more general compute environments is at the heart of what AMD does,” said Ben Williams, vice president of commercial business at AMD. “Sun's HPC technologies are making headway in the commercial market for their ability to help companies accelerate time-to-solution, design superior products and reduce costs. Together, Sun and AMD can offer customers leading-edge technology like AMD's revolutionary Direct Connect Architecture and industry-leading performance-per-watt, providing cost-effective, high-performance solutions to IT environments today.”

As the need for computational power grows, scientists, researchers and engineers need to run simulations that require thousands of times more compute power than current systems deliver. Today, one of the most cost-effective ways to meet this need is with clusters of systems, such as Sun's Terascale clusters, with up to many thousands of compute nodes. As managing large-scale clusters can be extremely challenging to deploy, operate effectively, power and cool, the Sun Solution Center for HPC plans to provide support for customers deploying large-scale compute cluster environments, and offer them the opportunity to test their applications and achieve optimal performance.

The facility's computing infrastructure was built using a unique building-block approach through Sun's Customer Ready Systems program, which customers can leverage to deploy their own large-scale HPC environments. With immense compute capacity that offers leading price/performance and power efficiency, the Sun Solution Center for HPC demonstrates Sun's investment and drive to accelerate Sun's growth in the HPC market. It runs more than 600 high-performance and energy-efficient Sun Fire x64 multi-core available servers powered by AMD Opteron processors with over 100TB of SunStorEdge Arrays. An equivalent center running Intel Xeon or Itanium processor-based servers could result in annual power-cooling costs of up to 15 percent higher for Xeon processor-based servers and up to 64 percent higher for Itanium processor-based servers.

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