Galicia To Install Large Memory Supercomputer

By Nicole Hemsoth

April 14, 2006

At an event attended by Spanish national and Galician authorities in the Supercomputing Center of Galicia (Centro de Supercomputación de Galicia – CESGA), CESGA, HP and Intel have announced a collaboration with Xunta de Galicia and the Higher Council of Scientific Research (CSIC) to install the largest memory-shared supercomputer in Europe by mid 2007. The new supercomputer, called Finis Terrae, will be based in the supercomputing center located in Santiago de Compostela. With it, Spanish and particularly Galician researchers will be able to perform more complex research projects than previously possible, with the new supercomputer providing enough computing and storage capacity to respond to the most ambitious scientific challenges.

Finis Terrae will be a worldwide reference point for scientific and technical computing and will benefit e-Science initiatives both in Spain and all across Europe, through existing collaborations with international external research groups. Finis Terrae will also reduce the execution time of current applications and overcome performance challenges currently faced in Spain when managing HPC projects.

“The existence of important groups of researchers among CESGA and CSIC users in Galicia make this community an ideal option for the implementation of this supercomputer,” explained Javier García Tobio, Director of GESGA. “Thanks to Finis Terrae, CESGA is becoming a reference center at a European and worldwide level, supplying high level computing technology with which the international scientific community will be able to conduct important research projects”.

The decision to set up a reference center responds directly to advancements in R&D by research groups from universities in Galicia and the CSIC in the area of high performance computing. The three partners in this collaboration have a common interest in developing projects in the following areas: design, development and optimization of scientific applications and specific software for shared memory systems; design and enhancement of new computing architectures as well as adaptation and optimization of free-software based scientific applications into shared memory. Also, the reference center will participate in conducting benchmarks of applications and beta tests of new developments.

As a direct result of this collaboration agreement, the Finis Terrae high performance supercomputer will be installed in CESGA, with more than 2,500 leading edge Intel Itanium 2 processor cores. This exceptional infrastructure, dedicated to R&D, has a shared memory architecture of more than 19 TB and a high performance InfiniBand network. The supercomputer will work with code based on free software (Linux, Lustre, Globus) and will have a hierarchical disk storage of 390 TB and a one petabyte automated tape library.

Finis Terrae will run on 142 nodes of 16 Itanium 2 processor cores with 128 GB of memory each. It will also include two nodes of 128 processor cores each (one with 384 GB of memory and the other with 1,024 GB). The Intel Itanium 2 processors that will be installed will be from the latest generation of the Itanium 2 family, designed to satisfy scientists' and researchers' needs, thanks to excellent performance in floating point operations, powerful memory bandwidth and high volume data management. The supercomputer will occupy 140 square meters and weigh 33.500 Kg.

For Jesús Maximoff, General Manager of Intel Corporation Iberia Finis Terrea is driving supercomputing capacity in Spain as an essential tool for innovation, and is a leap ahead for Intel in the research carried out in the country.

“We are proud that Galicia, through the CESGA researchers, has opened doors for us to be integrated into a worldwide network of research centres that are present in more than 20 countries. It will also become the biggest infrastructure for numerical simulation available in Spain to researchers from CSIC,” said Maximoff.

The value of the equipment exceeds 60 million euros, and each of the partners in the collaboration agreement will supply part of this cost. The contributions from CESGA will be in infrastructure, operation and management, first level maintenance, and coordination of R&D projects. Intel collaborates in the project with processors, software tools, R&D projects, training, and a reference center. Finally, HP will provide the supercomputer, its maintenance, software tools, training, R&D projects and a reference center.

According to Salustiano Mato, President of CESGA and general manager of R&D; “The creation of the collaboration agreement announced today provides possibilities and opportunities that will very positively influence the incorporation of the competitive differentiating elements of our companies and institutions into a sustainable development framework that benefits social welfare. We are not therefore talking of the purchase of a supercomputer, but of a long-term collaboration in which the partners work together to complete research activities and training that promote the creation of projects that benefit society as a whole.”

Finis Terrae will support scientific research that has been impossible to achieve with current resources. The machine will deliver computing power and storage that will answer the needs of the most ambitious scientific projects in important areas such as engineering, physics, chemical, biomedicine, health science, astrophysics, meteorology and climatology.

“For HP this project, which we have been working on for more than a year, represents our company's continuity with the R&D impulse in our country, a task which we work on daily, and to which we have dedicated a significant part of our profits. We are fully convinced that Spain needs to become an important reference for knowledge, innovation and science. Furthermore, Finis Terrae is bringing us closer to Galicia and its people, as well as CSIC, the country's research unit, which is very valuable to all of us,” said Santiago Cortés, President of HP Española.

This collaboration represents an important step towards addressing research challenges and converting Spain and especially Galicia, into an international model for HPC services for scientific and technical calculation, applied to the public and private sectors. This system will be among the fastest supercomputers in the world and give Spain a supercomputer that will increase the level of research in the country and extend its presence in the field of high performance computing.

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