University's state-of-the-art laboratory runs on Dell's High-Performance
TORONTO, June 20 /CNW/ - The University of Toronto has selected Dell(TM)
PowerEdge servers to power its new high-performance computing cluster (HPCC).
The new HPCC will help engineers and seismologists better understand the
impact of fractures and fault lines on the strength of rock in a range of
Critical to the understanding of earthquakes and other natural
phenomenon, fractures reduce the strength and change the behavior of materials
- whether a human arm, the trunk of a tree or a sheet of granite. Dell
technology will help scientists at the university better understand the nature
of fractures in rock, ultimately aiding engineers in preventing future
weaknesses in critical structures and landscapes.
Uniquely pairing its digital research with traditional physical
experiments, University of Toronto's new state-of-the-art facility will house
both the numerical and experimental equipment needed for world-class research.
Utilizing Dell technology to execute real-time and off-line processing, as
well as numerical modeling, the new laboratory will allow researchers to focus
on understanding rock mechanics and how fractures grow in materials like rock
Scheduled for completion at the end of the summer, the cluster uses 64
Dell PowerEdge 1950 servers. The U of T's new laboratory enables the
researchers to recreate synthetic rock formations through the creation of
millions of digital spheres, replicating rock particles. These digital spheres
can be given the physical properties in the computer enabling the researchers
to track in real time how the rock particles react to various applied stresses
A supercomputing cluster, or HPCC, is a group of network servers
connected to act as a single, high-powered computer. An HPCC like the one
installed at University of Toronto can perform trillions of complex
calculations per second, accomplishing work that previously required expensive
mainframe computers using proprietary technology.
"Dell's role in this research study means that we can replicate complex
processes much more accurately and with a much higher resolution," said Paul
Young, Chair of Civil Engineering Department and Chair of Seismology and Rock
Mechanics at the University of Toronto. "Without Dell, it's a little bit like
looking into space without a telescope. Dell's HPCC enables us to not only
increase the scope of our research but also increase the depth of our
understanding in this critical area of study. The team at Dell really took the
time to understand both our research parameters and our technology needs -
they are a true partner on this research project."
The university expects that the new HPCC will enable the research team to
create rock models of up to 40 million digital spheres or particles, a huge
increase over similar modeling systems which are able to replicate a mere
University of Toronto's HPCC is configured with 64 Dell PowerEdge 1950
2-socket servers equipped with 64-bit Dual-Core Intel(R) Xeon(R) processors,
for a total of 256 processing cores. Additionally, running on both Red Hat
Linux and Microsoft operating systems, the cluster will provide the university
with 18.9 terabytes of disk storage and 320 Gigabytes of overall memory. The
performance of the cluster has a theoretical peak throughput of 2.7 Teraflops
using significantly fewer servers than other clusters in this range.
Many of the scientists working on this project were already proficient in
managing Red Hat Linux operating systems, while others were more comfortable
researching in a Microsoft environment. For this reason, a decision was made
to use both operating systems on separate computing nodes. Deploying a beta
version of Microsoft's cluster operating system, Microsoft committed a group
of computer engineers to work onsite at the university to help the researchers
set-up the laboratory and ensure seamless integration and high performance
levels from the outset.
"The University of Toronto's cluster promises to become one of the
world's most prominent centers for engineering research and supercomputing,"
said Greg Davis, President, Dell Canada. "This is another example of how
standardized technology is pushing further into advanced computing and setting
new standards for value and performance. Dell is proud to continue our
partnership with the University of Toronto to provide them with the technology
needed to conduct their world-class research."
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