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14 November 2006

Cambridge University Supercomputer Ranks 20th in the World

ClusterVision, specialist in Linux supercomputer clusters, today announced the completion of one of the world's fastest supercomputers for the High Performance Computing Facility of the University of Cambridge. Built using Dell's 9th generation servers and storage units and Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® processors, the supercomputer will provide a central compute and storage facility to all scientists of the University of Cambridge.

More than 1152 Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5160 processors provide the University of Cambridge with more than 27 TeraFLOPs (27 x 1012 calculations per second) of raw computing power. On the TOP500 list of fastest supercomputers in the world, which was released today, the Cambridge installation is the 20th fastest supercomputer in the world and the 7th fastest in Europe. It is also the fastest cluster supercomputer in Europe based on Intel or AMD x86 architecture.

Dr Paul Calleja, Director of High Performance Computing at the University: "Hosting one of the fastest supercomputers in the world is a major milestone for the Cambridge High Performance Computing Facility. I have been very pleased with the working partnership between Dell, Intel and ClusterVision which supplied the compute cluster. Dell's hardware has proven to be very robust under the computational load already placed on it for the TOP500 benchmark runs. ClusterVision's role has been key in rapidly turning the Dell-supplied hardware into a usable and manageable cluster, ready for the TOP500 benchmarks. We will soon make the cluster available to the university's academic community as a whole."

Dr Alex Ninaber, Technical Director of ClusterVision, comments: "We are very proud to be part of this project building one of the fastest supercomputers in the world for one of the UK's most prestigious universities and we look forward to supporting the University of Cambridge in achieving maximum benefit from the cluster." Dr Ninaber continues: "More and more customers realise that only specialist companies like ClusterVision have the skills, experience and software to successfully manage and complete complex integration projects like these. Our ClusterVisionOS™ allowed us to very quickly deploy the right software across all compute, storage and networking hardware, diagnose problems caused by unstable hardware, and in this case, prepare the cluster to run the demanding TOP500 benchmarks."

"Dell is pleased to be teaming up with Cambridge University on the UK's fastest academic supercomputer. ClusterVision played a key part in the installation and integration of the supercomputer, and will be providing first-line support services to Cambridge University. In addition to providing a central compute and storage facility to the University, the centre will also run the Dell HPC Benchmarking Programme, a no-cost service that is designed to help customers scope their technology needs", said Iain Campbell, General Manager Public Sector, Dell UK. "Dell and its partners have worked to tight timescales to build and integrate this machine to provide one of the fastest supercomputers in Europe", continued Campbell. "By using the centre, customers can receive independent advice and find out more about the capability of their equipment to further maximise their IT investment."

"The result of Intel's collaboration with the University of Cambridge, ClusterVision and Dell has set a new standard in High Performance Computing. The rapid and successful deployment of the cluster and its level of performance demonstrate the unprecedented power of Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors coupled with the benefits of expert integration," said Dr. Ben Bennett, Worldwide Director of HPC Marketing Programs, Intel.

Technical Note
Each of the 576 Dell PowerEdge™ 1950 compute servers in the cluster has two Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® 5160 processors at 3GHz and 8GB of memory. All compute servers are interconnected by an InfiniBand network from QLogic InfiniPath host adapters and switches from SilverStorm Technologies. 60 TeraBytes of storage is provided by 18 Dell PowerVault™ MD1000 disk arrays connected to the cluster network over 10 Gigabit Ethernet links. The storage pool is managed by the TerraGrid parallel filesystem.

The cluster runs the ClusterVisionOS™, ClusterVision's own Linux-based cluster software distribution which provides an integrated software environment for the effective use and management of the system.

The cluster comprises nine computational units (CUs), each with its own ClusterVisionOS Sub-Master. Each CU has 65 nodes for computation. The CUs are managed by two failover Sub-Masters. What is unique about the setup is that the CUs can run independently - if one CU fails the other CUs will keep on functioning. Also, if one of the ClusterVisionOS Main Masters fails, the cluster will keep on running. User jobs, however, are not limited to a single CU and can span multiple CUs. The construction using independent CUs allows for scaling up to far larger clusters with tens of thousands servers. Users log into one of the four DNS balanced ClusterVisionOS Login Nodes.

About the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge was established nearly 800 years ago and is made up of 31 colleges and more than 100 departments, catering for around 15,500 students. Cambridge has a worldwide reputation for outstanding academic achievement and high quality research undertaken in a wide range of science and arts subjects. Its mission is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. The University pioneers work in the understanding of disease, the creation of new materials, advances in telecommunications and research into the origins of the universe. It trains doctors, vets, architects, engineers and teachers. At all levels about half of the students at Cambridge study arts and humanities subjects, many of whom have gone on to become prominent figures in the arts, print and broadcast media. The University's achievements in the sciences can be measured by the 60 or more Nobel Prizes awarded to its members over the years.

About Dell
Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they trust and value. Uniquely enabled by its direct business model, Dell sells more systems globally than any computer company, placing it No. 25 on the Fortune 500. Company revenue for the past four quarters was $57.4 billion. For more information, visit To get Dell news direct, visit

About Intel
Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at

About ClusterVision
ClusterVision is specialist in the design, implementation and support of small- and large-scale computer clusters. Their clustering technology provides a cost-effective alternative to traditional supercomputers by connecting multiple computers to form a unified powerful computing system. ClusterVision's team of experts has designed and built some of the largest and most complex computational, storage and database clusters in Europe. With a background in applied scientific research and practical experience with a wide range of HPC technologies, the team understands customers' requirements and provides tailor-made solutions. ClusterVision has offices in Amsterdam, Gloucester (UK), Munich, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Oslo and Madrid.

For more information
Dr ir Matthijs van Leeuwen
ClusterVision BV
Nieuw-Zeelandweg 15B
1045 AL Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 407 7550
Fax: +31 84 759 8389
m [dot] vanleeuwen [at] clustervision [dot] com

A few of the server racks with more than 1152 Dual-Core Intel® Xeon® processors that make up the 20th fastest supercomputer in the world.


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