Supercomputing clusters power Grid-based disease mapping at the University of Liverpool

Round Rock 09 June 2003The University of Liverpool has unveiled its new large-scale Dell high-performance computing cluster (HPCC), powered by Intel Pentium 4 processors, to underpin further ground-breaking disease mapping and physics research, and to enhance international public-interest work conducted on the University's own cross-campus Grid network (ULGRID).


The University's Department of Physics will use the 940-node cluster of Dell PowerEdge 650 servers, expected to be in the top 100 of the official TOP500 list of largest supercomputer sites in the world, to simulate the collision of particles to help determine the origins of the universe. In addition, ULGRID and the Advanced Institute for Methods and Emergent Systems (AiMeS) will harness the power of the cluster to assist in student and faculty research, to undertake work conducted with the World Health Organisation to simulate the spread of epidemics of diseases such as SARS, and to support a planned research grid with the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

Professor Themis Bowcock of the Department of Physics, University of Liverpool, stated: "The combination of Dell and Intel technology will help to exponentially increase the processing power at our disposal, allowing us to perform larger simulations, at a far greater rate and lower cost. We also have the added reassurance that the cluster will perform well into the future with the option to expand as required."

"Our demands were high. We were looking for a cost-effective, reliable cluster solution that would fit within a very restricted space and be deployed as quickly as possible. In addition we have a limited budget in the Department, so we needed a high performance system with low power consumption. Dell's HPCC solution with Intel Pentium 4 processor met all these requirements", continued Professor Bowcock.

The Dell 940-node supercomputing cluster is powered by 3,06 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processors running the Red Hat Linux operating system and is connected by 48 PowerConnect 5224 network switches, providing high-performance switching capabilities. Due to be fully operational in July 2003, the solution will initially co-exist with the University's original array of 300 PCs and servers with plans to eventually link in with a wider university science network.

Bill Rodrigues, Vice President and General Manager UK and Global EMEA, Dell, commented: "Dell HPCC solutions continue to prove standards-based architectures that scale out to meet customers' performance needs at significantly lower cost. They are the future of the data centre. The flexibility of easily increasing the size and power of the cluster is very attractive to organisations that are required to process and analyse large quantities of data quickly and efficiently."

Dell, managing the delivery and installation of the HPCC solution, is working closely with Intel on the project. Ajay Malhotra, EMEA Enterprise Marketing Director, Intel, stated: "Systems built from clusters of high-performance processors are leading the way at the high end of scientific computing. Intel's Pentium 4 processor, with Hyper-Threading technology, addresses the needs of scientific users, giving a combination of outstanding performance and cost-effectiveness. Armed with these capabilities, the University of Liverpool has the computing power to drive forward its groundbreaking research activities."

In a further research project, the University of Liverpool is hosting part of a separate Dell cluster, purchased by a consortium of four universities including Oxford, Glasgow and the University College London (UCL). This HPCC provides computing power and data storage for the study conducted by the consortium analysing particle accelerator data generated and collected by Fermi National Accelarator Laboratory (Fermilab) in the United States.

The University of Liverpool is one of the United Kingdom's leading research institutions with a prodigious spread of expertise, from the humanities and social sciences to engineering, science, veterinary science and medicine. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organisations, valued at more than GBP 80 million annually.

Dell Computer Corporation is a premier provider of products and services required for customers worldwide to build their information-technology and Internet infrastructures. Company revenue for the past four quarters totalled $36,9 billion. Dell, through its direct business model, designs, manufactures and customises products and services to customer requirements, and offers an extensive selection of software and peripherals.

Leslie Versweyveld

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