The University's newly enhanced HPC infrastructure helps students achieve significantly faster processing power, while cutting energy costs by up to 20%
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 12 January 2012 — ClusterVision, specialist in high performance compute, storage and database clusters, has announced the opening of a new HPC cluster system at the Technical University of Ilmenau. The University’s newly enhanced HPC infrastructure will help students achieve 7 times faster processing power, while cutting energy costs by up to 20%.
TU Ilmenau wanted to replace its existing HPC system with a solution that would improve both performance and data access speeds. This required the expansion of its existing 55 server cluster to support the more complex processing tasks and local storage requirements of its 150-200 active users.
“We’re committed to academic leadership, and strive to offer researchers and students the best possible environment and support,” says Hennig Schwanbeck, IT Manager of Datacentre Administration, at the Technical University of Ilmenau. “IT plays an essential role in helping us achieve this, but the University’s existing architecture could no longer handle the growing data volumes and high-powered applications, such as those used for complex simulation.”
As a public-sector institute, TU Ilmenau was required to assess solutions from multiple vendors. As the result of the European tendering procedure, a collaboration between Dell and the HPC specialist ClusterVision was started. TU Ilmenau worked with the ClusterVision technical team to design an HPC cluster based on Dell™ PowerEdge™ servers.
“Our main requirement was a fast network interconnect for our nodes, something the old cluster didn’t have. In addition, we wanted a parallel file system because of the global data volumes and large file sizes we now use. Our selection criteria were pragmatic : the fastest solution, with the greatest number of cores, and the best benchmark performance.”
The close collaboration between ClusterVision and Dell was an important factor in ultimately selecting ClusterVision as the preferred integration partner.
“Many companies adopt a one size fits all approach to tenders. Together, ClusterVision and Dell offered the specialised expertise we needed, and were able to provide a customised, more detailed proposal,” explains Schwanbeck.
“A detailed understanding of our customers’ requirements and constraints is always an important part of our process, allowing us to review and select the most appropriate technologies, and design systems which are a best fit solution to each customer’s individual needs,” Jan Heichler, Country Manager Germany, ClusterVision.
The resulting HPC cluster consists of 49 Dell PowerEdge R815 servers with AMD Opteron™ 6134 and 6136 Octa Core processors, running a Fraunhofer File System. One PowerEdge R715 server with AMD Opteron 6128 processors operates as the storage head node, and four further PowerEdge R510 servers with Intel® Xeon® 5506 processors deliver the cluster’s SAS storage. The University has a single Dell PowerEdge R510 server as the metadata storage, and a Dell PowerVault™ MD1200 modular disk storage array for 196 terabytes of gross storage capacity and 150 terabytes net capacity. An InfiniBand network delivers high bandwidth and low latency for fast server-to-server interconnects.
”We were extremely satisfied with the speed and ease of installation, which took place in around four weeks and caused minimum disruption to researchers and students. ClusterVision delivered the complete solution and installed it without problems, and within a short timeframe,” says Schwanbeck.
Jan Heichler, of ClusterVision continues. “Realisation of the TU Ilmenau cluster required the harmonious combination of a number of complex hardware, software and service components. All at ClusterVision are pleased that our team was able to provide TU Ilmenau with a high-quality, right-first-time installation, allowing the University’s user community to focus on their applications, with minimum levels of disturbance.”
With the HPC environment in place, and a high data transfer rate of 7 gigabytes per second, TU Ilmenau students can now deliver highly complex design simulations more quickly.
Schwanbeck explains: “Our CPU and memory power has multiplied by 7 times, and the new system fulfills our computing requirements with ease. Feedback has been really positive. Numerical simulations with a previous runtime of one week can now be solved in less than one day.”
Dell PowerEdge servers include Energy Smart technologies for greater green efficiency. Features such as voltage regulators, and greater venting and airflow help the University to maximise performance per Watt. Smart management features such as power capping and scheduling allow TU Ilmenau to better manage their energy use. PowerEdge servers also come with a collection of sensors that automatically track thermal activity, helping regulate temperatures and further lowering energy consumption, Overall, power and cooling costs at TU Ilmenau have been reduced by between 15 and 20%.
HPC system demands are significantly higher than with other IT environments. Schwanbeck explains: “Classical servers normally work at 30% capacity at most. In HPC, we need a maximal usage of CPU and memory - so in the last year our overall cluster usage was about 95%. With our new HPC Cluster, we have greater storage capacity and can achieve a higher workload per server, so we’re maximising the effectiveness of our infrastructure. The Dell PowerEdge R815 servers also offer more memory in a single machine, and it’s more easily accessed, so there’s more availability for our shared memory applications, and we no longer have to split the load across two or more machines,” adds Schwanbeck.
Schwanbeck continues, “IT personnel find the individual servers in the clusters easy to manage using each machine’s Dell Baseboard Management Controller. They can proactively monitor the servers and maximise their performance remotely in relation to the number of requested user jobs. Furthermore, they can log server faults, check hardware temperature, control power and reset the system. In previous clusters I’ve worked on, making changes was problematic. Management and monitoring is simpler and less time-consuming with Dell Baseboard Management Controller.”
TU Ilmenau also chose Dell ProSupport™ with Mission Critical to maximise performance. The modular support structure means that the University can select the support components that best meet its needs. It has chosen onsite response times of four hours for critical components, with non-critical components protected by the next business day option.
ClusterVision were proud guests at the official Inauguration Ceremony of the TU Ilmenau HPC Cluster on Thursday 1 December, 2011
About TU Ilmenau
The Technical University of Ilmenau (TU Ilmenau) is situated in Thuringen, Germany. With 6,500 students and more than 1,200 staff in 100 departments and groups, TU Ilmenau specialises in scientific teaching and ground-breaking research in fields such as nano-engineering, precision technology, assistance systems, system technology, media technology and mobile communications. The University also works closely with the automotive industry in the development of new materials for vehicle construction. Whether it’s nano-engineering or building biosensors, students and staff need access to reliable, high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure for their studies and research.
ClusterVision specialises in the design, deployment and operation of High Performance Compute (HPC) clusters. Compute clusters are used by pioneering organisations in academia and industry to run high-intensity computing applications in fields such as scientific research and development, manufacturing, healthcare and finance. By combining cutting-edge hardware and software components with a range of customised professional services, ClusterVision helps its customers create top-quality, efficient and reliable HPC solutions. In addition to systems technologies from leading manufacturers, ClusterVision's solutions typically include a range of HPC software components, such as easy to use cluster provisioning, management and monitoring. ClusterVision offers a full portfolio of professional services, covering the total cluster lifecycle - from system design, assembly and certification, to operational management, support, and training. With a background in applied scientific research, and practical experience in a wide range of HPC technologies, the ClusterVision team has designed and built some of the largest and most complex computational, storage and database clusters in Europe.
For more information
Dr. Tony Kent
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Tel: +44(0)7795 44 1655
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