SGI Powers Fionn Supercomputer at ICHEC in Ireland

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In this video, Niall Wilson describes how the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) delivers top-quality technology services and support to universities and enterprises.

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) provides supercomputing facilities to research and academic communities and extends both the computational science expertise and IT skills-base of Ireland. ICHEC serves, and shares expertise with, the commercial sector, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The organization also aligns itself with and participates actively in EU-wide high performance computing (HPC) consortia, helping the broader academic community. Challenge ICHEC caters for an extremely broad range of computing requirements from universities, research institutions, enterprises and SMEs.

ICHEC’s existing HPC solutions—including the Stokes supercomputer—were approaching obsolescence and could no longer support increasing demand. Lack of consolidation was another issue, as Niall Wilson, Infrastructure Manager at ICHEC said:

Our main supercomputer, Stokes, was a distributed-memory machine, and we also ran other systems using different architectures,” said Niall Wilson, Infrastructure Manager at ICHEC. “Managing multiple machines was relatively inefficient, and made it hard for research teams to run projects requiring more than one architecture.”

Fionn Supercomputer

Fionn Supercomputer

ICHEC engaged several vendors in a competitive dialog to find the best solution. “We wanted a supercomputer that could consolidate the four different architectures that we manage, with a strong preference for keeping the same open-source scheduling environment for workload assignment,” said Niall Wilson.

Based on the solution’s superior price performance, ICHEC deployed Fionn, a supercomputer built on SGI ICE X hardware running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Fionn is a heterogenous machine made up of four components: Thin, Hybrid, Fat and Service.

  • The Thin component is an SGI ICE X system of 320 nodes or 7680 cores made of 2.4GHz Intel Ivy Bridge cores. Each node has 2×12 core processors, 64GB of RAM and is connected using FDR InfiniBand. This amounts to 20TB of RAM across the partition.
  • The Hybrid partition contains 32 nodes. Each of these nodes has 2×10 core 2.2GHz Intel Ivy Bridge with 64GB of RAM. This partition has accelerators from Intel and NVIDIA. 16 nodes have 32 Intel Xeon Phi 5110P’s while the other 16 have 32 NVIDIA K20X’s.
  • The Fat section is an SGI UV2000 where 1.7TB of RAM is accessible to 112 cores of Intel Sandy Bridge (14×8 cores processors) and 2 Intel Xeon Phi 5110P’s.
  • The final component contains a set of service and administrative nodes to provide user login, batch scheduling, management, tape backup, switches, etc. Storage is provided via a DDN SFA12k-20 with 560TB of capacity to all components of the machine via a Lustre filesystem.

Fionn quadruples the computing resources previously available to scientists in Ireland (and this is only considering the Thin partition). It also provides access to the latest technology from Intel, Ivy Bridge processors + Xeon Phi coprocessors, and NVIDIA, Tesla accelerators, to researchers across Ireland.

On implementing Fionn, ICHEC was funded by Intel to work on its new many-core technology as an official Intel Parallel Computing Center.

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