CSC News

February 08, 2011

NC State is Home to the Most Powerful Academic HPC in North Carolina

NC State University is the home of an extremely powerful educational HPC (high performance computing) cluster made up of 1728 processor cores and 36 NVIDIA Tesla C2050 GPUs on 108 computer nodes (32GB RAM each) with QDR Infiniband. According to Dr. Frank Mueller, professor in the NC State Computer Science Department, this cluster is currently the most powerful academic HPC cluster in North Carolina.

This cluster was made possible in part by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in the amount of $549,999 supporting the research project of Dr. Mueller (PI), and his collaborators: Drs. Vince Freeh and Xiaosong Ma, associate professors of computer science, and Drs. Xiaohui (Helen) Gu and Xuxian Jiang, assistant professors of computer science.  GPUs were purchased in part with funds from NC State University and donations from NVIDIA.
The research project, titled “A Root Cluster (ARC) for Systems Research into Scalable Computing,” addresses scalability, one of the key challenges to computing with multiple processors. Testing software at scale with hundreds of processing cores is impossible if system software with privileged access rights needs to be modified. The inability to change system software at will in large-scale computing installations impedes progress in system software.
This project created a mid-size computational infrastructure, called ARC, that directly supports research into scalability for system-level software solutions. ARC empowers users temporarily with administrator (root) rights and allows them to replace arbitrary components of the software stack. Such replacements range from entire operating systems over drivers, kernel modules to runtime libraries, middleware and system tools.
ARC ultimately enables a multitude of systems research directions to be assessed under scalability that could otherwise not be conducted. Through ARC, methodologies for scalability of experimental system software in various institutional projects and beyond can be explored and systematically improved. ARC is positioned to benefit the software systems community and indirectly science in general by this assessment of system software requirements at scale.
The cluster's primary mission is research and education in computer science, but cycles are shared with scientists at NC State and beyond to tackle grand challenge problems in physics, climate simulation and energy, as well as problems in other science/engineering fields.
For more information on the ARC cluster, click here.
For more information on Dr. Mueller, click here.


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