TU Dresden's Center for Information Services and High-Performance Computing (ZIH) installed an SGI Altix 4700 system powered by 2048 Intel Itanium 2 processor cores and 6,5 Terabytes (TB) of main memory. The supercomputer can deliver 11,9 trillion floating point operations per second (TFLOPS), making it the most powerful system in the East German Federal States.
To ensure fast, easy access to data, ZIH also implemented a massive SGI InfiniteStorage Data Management Facility (DMF) infrastructure. The hierarchical mass storage and retrieval system includes on-line disk space via SGI InfiniteStorage 6700 systems. By leveraging high-performance SGI InfiniteStorage Shared Filesystem CXFS, DMF and SGI-enhanced NFS, TU Dresden researchers can rapidly move and store large volumes of data. The data management infrastructure also includes a tape robot system featuring a Petabyte of capacity.
The SGI Altix 4700 supercomputer offers TU Dresden researchers up to 50.000 core hours of operation daily and as much as 1,5 million hours every month. Access to this much compute power has translated into real-world benefits. For instance, a complex simulation of large eddy formations that once required more than three months to compute now can be completed overnight on the SGI Altix 4700 system. This boost in productivity also allows the TU Dresden researchers to integrate theory with simulation and experimentation more closely than ever before. This collaborative, teamwork-based work flow has lead to faster, more accurate insights, as researchers assess and compare information garnered from model calculations and experimental evidence.
"With SGI, we have obtained a well-balanced computer and storage environment that we hope will fuel innovation, not just here at the university, but throughout the region", stated Dr. Hermann Kokenge, rector of TU Dresden. "With this SGI environment, we can offer our own institutes and other academic communities additional computing power in a working environment perfectly suited for data-intensive study. We already are witnessing major advances in traditional spheres of research and in emerging fields."
An important component of the productivity improvements realized by TU Dresden's ZIH is the SGI InfiniteStorage environment, enabled by CXFS and DMF. For instance, the InfiniteStorage on-line disk system is integrated with the SGI supercomputer at the speed of 8 Gigabytes per second. That translates to extremely fast results for researchers working on even the largest problems: TU Dresden engineers have shown that CXFS can load 4 TB of data from the network into the system memory of the SGI Altix 4700 supercomputer in just 10 minutes, and 25 TB of data can move from the tape archive system to the SGI Altix in only four hours.
"High bandwidth for the fast movement of large volumes of data is extremely important for our capability computing approach", stated Prof. Dr. Wolfgang E. Nagel, director of ZIH. "The SGI solution exceeded our goals for the speed and efficiency of data movement and management. This is outstanding."
More SGI news can be found in the VMW March 2008 article SGI to integrate eXludus software into cluster offering.