Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Takes Delivery of SGI Shared Memory Systems

PITTSBURGH, March 25, 2008 – On schedule with plans announced in January, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has taken delivery and begun testing two new SGI Altix® 4700 systems. One, named “Pople” for Nobel-Prize-winning chemist John Pople, will be integrated into the TeraGrid, the National Science Foundation program of comprehensive cyberinfrastructure, substantially increasing the “shared memory” capability available through NSF for U.S. science and engineering research.

The other, named “Salk” for Jonas Salk, was acquired with support from NIH’s National Center for Research Resources for PSC’s biomedical program, the National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing (NRBSC), will be devoted exclusively to biomedical research.

Both systems are named for scientists associated with Pittsburgh. Pople did his important work – computational methods in quantum chemistry – that garnered a 1998 Nobel Prize while a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Salk did his famous work developing the first effective polio vaccine while at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

Both new systems feature “shared memory,” which means that the system’s main memory can be directly accessed from all processors, as opposed to distributed memory (in which each processor’s memory is directly accessed only by that processor). Because all processors share a single view of data, a shared memory system is relatively easy to program. PSC expects that the usability features of these two new systems will attract many new researchers.

So far 29 research groups have stepped forward as “friendly users” of Pople (768 processors, 1.5 terabytes of memory, 5.0 teraflops peak performance), which will become a TeraGrid production resource on July 1. Friendly users are researchers who test and debug their programs on the new system in advance of it becoming officially available, so that they can use it productively as soon as possible. Researchers interested in friendly-user access to Pople should contact Sergiu Sanielevici, sergiu@psc.edu.

Biomedical researchers interested in using Salk (144 processors, 288 gigabytes memory) should contact Alex Ropelewski, ropelews@psc.edu