Purdue University Expands Advanced Computing Resources With SGI Technology

SGI Altix and InfiniteStorage Systems Will Speed Weather Modeling, Grid

Computing 'Nano-Hubs' and Quantum Chemistry Calculations; SGI RASC

Technology will Accelerate Genomics Codes and Seek Production Economies

Oct 18, 2006, 01:00 ET from SGI

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- SGI today
 announced at the J. Craig Venter Genomes, Medicine and the Environment
 Conference that Purdue University purchased a selection of SGI(R)
 high-performance compute and storage technology from the SGI Scientific
 Workflow Solutions portfolio. Purdue University's Rosen Center for Advanced
 Computing (RCAC) will test genomics and other codes and explore cost-saving
 computing strategies using the SGI(R) Altix(R) 450 system configured with
 groundbreaking SGI(R) RASC(TM) (Reconfigurable Application-Specific
 Computing) RC100 Blades for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). A newly
 acquired SGI(R) Altix(R) 4700 system with a 30TB SGI(R) InfiniteStorage
 array will add powerful SGI shared-memory processing architecture to the
 Center's large array of resources. The SGI 4700 system will be used for
 climatology, weather modeling, nanotechnology and quantum chemistry
 calculations. RCAC, on the West Lafayette, Ind. campus, is the research
 computing activity of the university, providing advanced computing
 resources and services to support the computationally intensive research of
 Purdue faculty and staff.
     "The primary reason we purchased Altix is that it gives us balance in
 the resources we offer, said Bruce Loftis, PhD, interim executive director
 of the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, Purdue University. "The new,
 large shared memory Altix 4700 machine is important for a specific set of
 our users. We have large clusters, but this gives us a different resource
 that some of our research groups will find very efficient for their
 computationally intense calculations. The shared memory is important for
 the chemists, and it is also important for a number of areas that need a
 large shared-memory system to do their analyses and simulations, including
 quantum chemistry codes and climate research. Linux was an important part
 of our decision because our current resources are Linux-based. We don't
 want to have to learn another operating system."
     The shared-memory processing of the SGI Altix 4700 system is expected
 to be of great interest to State of Indiana state climatologists, who have
 been using RCAC's cluster systems. One economic development project targets
 improved crop forecasting and planning in rural areas.
     "The farmers in our state have to make a lot of decisions based on best
 guesses on the weather, and our state climatologist estimates that if we
 could improve their decision-making process by giving them better
 information, running these statistical models, then it could benefit the
 state by as much as $250 million," said Dr. Loftis. "This weather
 information will also be very important for disaster planning and emergency
 response before, during and after weather events in the state, a benefit to
 both rural and urban areas. Another thing that we're very concerned about
 in an agricultural state like Indiana is the water run-off, such as where
 things go once they're applied to the soil, and so mapping of our water
 resources and our water flow is very important -- and a computationally
 intensive project as well."
     SGI RASC FPGA-based Reconfigurable Computing
     The SGI Altix 450 system with two SGI RASC RC100 Blades enables four
 FPGAs to tap into an Altix system's shared memory and address space at full
 memory bandwidth. The FPGAs in the system can be reconfigured via software
 to accelerate different applications at different points in time, providing
 up to 100x performance improvement. At Purdue, the FPGAs will initially be
 working in concert with four dual-core Intel Itanium 2 processors as a
 separate development environment focused on code porting, production and
     David Braun, Research Programmer, Rosen Center for Advanced Computing,
 Purdue University, has chosen Mitrionics' Mitrion-C and Mitrion Virtual
 Processor to accelerate applications from multiple disciplines, starting
 with bioinformatics. Braun is especially interested in codes in
 nanotechnology, image processing, and high energy physics and is currently
 recruiting researchers who are interested in exploring the possibilities of
 FPGAs with SGI RASC technology.
     "We're also going to be looking at RASC from an operation and
 production standpoint," said Braun. "We run an operations facility and we
 are launching an FPGA initiative that is more attuned to a production
 environment, and we're going to be looking at reducing the cost of
 operation. We already know that, out of the box, an FPGA draws one-quarter
 to one-third the power of a CPU. Let's say a problem comes in that needs to
 have 4 CPUs to do the job correctly, but we can figure out a way to cut
 that to 2 CPUs and 2 FPGAs doing the equal amount of work then the cost of
 running that code has gone down. I'm looking at RASC FPGA-based computing
 to take existing science and make it scalable to the masses in an
 economical way."
     Part of making science scalable to the masses is the university's
 involvement in science portals and grid computing. For example, Purdue
 University has a very strong Nanotechnology program, and the SGI Altix 4700
 system will be a resource associated with a "nano-hub," a science gateway
 that lets users from all over the world gain access via the Internet to
 nanotechnology simulation models, databases and other resources that they
 would not be able to otherwise access. The SGI Altix 4700 system will be
 joining the RCAC's other high performance resources on the Northwest
 Indiana Computational Grid (NWICG).
     Funding for the NWICG, including the SGI technology purchase, is
 through the U.S. Department of Energy, with the strong support of Indiana
 Congressman Peter Visclosky. The main purpose of the Grid -- a partnership
 with Notre Dame University, Purdue University at West Lafayette, and Purdue
 University at Calumet -- is to examine economic development in the
 northwest corner of Indiana. The NWICG is a member of the Open Science Grid
 (OSG), a large grid headed out of the Fermi Lab, and the SGI Altix 4700
 system will be the first shared memory machine connected to the OSG.
     Through SGI's exclusive education reseller, James River Technical, Inc.
 (JRTI), Purdue University's RCAC purchased an SGI Altix 4700 with 128
 Intel(R) Itanium(R) processors and 512GB memory, a 30TB SGI InfiniteStorage
 4000 storage system which will be used for scratch storage and connected to
 the university's larger storage systems and archive, and an 8-core Altix
 450 with 2 SGI RASC RC100 Blade systems. The order was placed in late
 September and is scheduled for November installation. The Center also plans
 on a strong educational component for the SGI Altix 450 with RASC including
 a Graduate/Undergraduate class that uses the technology, development of a
 seminar series to discuss issues and a training class for users.
     "Purdue University's Rosen Center for Advanced Computing conducts its
 own research and development to enhance the capabilities of their resources
 and we anticipate their implementation of an SGI Scientific Workflow
 Solution with new shared-memory, RASC and storage technologies will provide
 new opportunities to conduct differentiated research and generate
 breakthrough results," said Michael Brown, sciences segment manager at SGI.
 "Adding the large shared memory processing capability of the Altix 4700 to
 their arsenal of scientific computing equipment will enable researchers and
 students to study a wide range of problems in more detail than ever before,
 and the use of RASC technology will rapidly advance discovery in
 Biosciences and other fields."
     SGI - Innovation for Results(TM)
     SGI delivers a complete range of high-performance server and storage
 solutions along with industry-leading professional services and support
 that enable its customers to overcome the challenges of complex
 data-intensive workflows and accelerate breakthrough discoveries,
 innovation and information transformation. SGI helps customers solve their
 computing challenges whether it's enhancing the quality of life through
 drug research, designing and manufacturing safer and more efficient cars
 and airplanes, studying global climate, providing technologies for homeland
 security and defense, or helping enterprises manage large data. With
 offices worldwide, the company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif.,
 and can be found on the Web at www.sgi.com.
     NOTE: SGI, Altix, the SGI cube and the SGI logo are registered
 trademarks of SGI in the United States and/or other countries worldwide.
 Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in several countries.
 Intel, Itanium, and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel
 Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.
 All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective
     This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding SGI
 technologies and third-party technologies that are subject to risks and
 uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to
 differ materially from those described in such statements. The reader is
 cautioned not to rely unduly on these forward-looking statements, which are
 not a guarantee of future or current performance. Such risks and
 uncertainties include long-term program commitments, the performance of
 third parties, the sustained performance of current and future products,
 financing risks, the ability to integrate and support a complex technology
 solution involving multiple providers and users, and other risks detailed
 from time to time in the company's most recent SEC reports, including its
 reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q.
      Marla Robinson