PSC News Center

Red Storm Comes to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center has received $9.7 million from the National Science Foundation for the latest, most advanced Cray system.
Artist's concept of the Red Storm System to be installed at PSC.

Artist's rendering of PSC's Red Storm. Courtesy of Cray, Inc.

PITTSBURGH, September 29, 2004 — LeMieux , the terascale computing system at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), has been an impressive research performer for three years, but PSC will soon have a Red Storm with even more impressive computing credentials.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $9.7 million to PSC to acquire and install the newest high-performance system from Cray Inc. Called Red Storm by Cray, the new system has processors twice as powerful as LeMieux along with a state-of-the-art internal network that allows the processors to communicate and share data more than 10 times faster than any similar competing system.

PSC’s Red Storm will comprise 2,000 processors (AMD Opteron) and have a peak performance of nearly 10 teraflops — 10 trillion calculations per second. It will be the first prototype of this highly capable system to be made available to NSF scientists and engineers. Part of PSC’s objective will be to evaluate this new architecture on representative research applications, which will include blood-flow modeling, protein simulations, storm forecasting, global climate modeling, and simulations of earthquake ground vibration.

“The Red Storm system in Pittsburgh will enable researchers to explore the limits of high-performance computing and to demonstrate the potential of this architecture for a wide range of scientific applications,” said Peter Freeman, head of NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate. “The system will complement other systems already provided by NSF to the national community and will strengthen the growing high-end computing partnership between NSF and the Department of Energy.”

Because of its superior interprocessor communication, Red Storm will provide a powerful platform for research applications designed for efficient “scaling” — using hundreds or thousands of processors simultaneously on the same problem. In this respect, PSC expects it to succeed LeMieux — which last year provided more than 60 percent of the computing time used through NSF — as the prime NSF resource for the most complex, demanding projects in computational science and engineering.

“We’re extremely gratified to be able to introduce Red Storm for the NSF,” said PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies in a joint statement. “PSC has unmatched experience in deploying new systems for the national research community. Going back to the CRAY Y-MP in 1990, we have installed over a half-dozen first and early systems of diverse architectures.”

“Cray is very pleased to partner with PSC and the NSF to deliver a system, built from the ground up for high-end computing, to the broader academic research community,” said Peter Ungaro, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Cray, Inc. “Bringing the Red Storm system to PSC will provide researchers with incredibly high bandwidth and usability while leveraging the best in microprocessor technology and price/performance. We are excited to imagine how this Cray technology will be used to push the bounds of science.”

Like LeMieux, PSC’s Red Storm will be integrated into the TeraGrid, a multi-year NSF effort to build and deploy the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed infrastructure for open scientific research.

Because Red Storm’s network is an integral design feature of the system, Red Storm will occupy much less floor space than LeMieux, about as much as a spacious living room (12 x 28 feet) compared to the basketball-court size space used by LeMieux.

PSC’s Red Storm will employ many of the same technologies as a larger, 40 teraflop Red Storm now being installed at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque. Although that system has complex features, required for classified research, that are unnecessary in PSC’s open research environment, PSC and Sandia will pool their knowledge and experience with Red Storm to maximize its productivity as a scientific resource.

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.


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Michael Schneider
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

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