|Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
August 14, 2001
Terascale Processors Arrive at Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center
PITTSBURGH The first high-performance processors of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's new Terascale Computing System have arrived at the PSC machine room at Westinghouse Energy Center in Monroeville, Pa. When fully installed later this year, this new system will be used for large-scale modeling in areas that include the life sciences, weather forecasting and climate change and will be the most powerful system in the world available for public research.
The new Compaq Alpha microprocessors, designated EV68, represent the latest evolution of the Alpha microchip technology that has been widely used in both commercial and scientific computing for about 10 years. The EV68 is the most powerful Alpha chip to date, with peak floating-point capability of two gigaflops (two billion calculations per second).
The full Terascale Computing System, slated for installation by Oct. 1, will comprise 3,000 EV68s housed in four-processor AlphaServer systems, providing a total capability of six teraflops (six trillion calculations a second).
Compaq manufactures the AlphaServer systems in Ayr, Scotland. Along with other components of the Terascale system, they will arrive in a steady stream between now and the end of September, say PSC officials.
A team from Compaq is working closely with PSC staff to assemble and test the new system. PSC has already field-tested two of the new AlphaServer systems at the Monroeville machine room, notes PSC assistant director of systems and operations J. Ray Scott, and Compaq has also factory-tested the AlphaServer systems before releasing them for shipment. "The hardware has been flawless," said Scott. "Factory testing reports no failures. The indications are that this will proceed smoothly."
"Compaq is extremely pleased to reach this milestone with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center," said Bill Blake, Compaq vice president for High Performance Technical Computing. "When it comes on-line later this year, the Terascale system will give U.S. scientists and engineers access to unprecedented computing performance to accelerate their research."
The sheer quantity of processors and the aggregated cluster-size of the system present a challenge to the PSC-Compaq team. "There are, for example, 9,000 pounds of cable, all of which we've tested individually," said Scott. The scope of managing arrival and assembly of the system has led PSC staff to create a database solely for this purpose.
PSC is developing and implementing the Terascale Computing System pursuant to a $45 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It will be used by scientists nationwide.
A prototype Terascale system, employing 256 Alpha processors less powerful than the new EV68, has been operational since December. It is now being used for a range of projects that include astrophysics, fluid dynamics, earthquake modeling and the structure and function of proteins and DNA.For more information, see http://www.psc.edu/machines/tcs/
The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.