Assembling A Cray XT5 Supercomputer

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The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre, known as CSCS, upgraded its supercomputer to a Cray XT5 and dubbed it “Monte Rosa.” This time-lapse video shows the process of delivering (sometimes in pouring rain) and assembling the massive high-performance computing system. Global supercomputer maker Cray Inc. reported that the CSCS took a significant step forward to petascale computing by upgrading from a Cray XT3 system to a Cray XT5 supercomputer. The centre is located in Manno, Switzerland. The 20-cabinet upgrade resulted in a system that is the most powerful supercomputer in Switzerland and one of the largest high performance computing (HPC) systems worldwide.

The May 2009 upgrade is one in a series of upgrades for the Cray system at CSCS since the Lugano, Switzerland-based research facility installed Europe’s first Cray XT3 supercomputer in 2005. CSCS is leveraging the petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second) computing architecture of the Cray XT5 supercomputer to provide the Swiss scientific and industrial community with computing resources necessary to stay competitive on an international level.

The CSCS develops and promotes technical and scientific services for the Swiss research community in the fields of high-performance computing, enabling world-class scientific research by pioneering, operating and supporting leading-edge supercomputing technologies. The centre collaborates with domestic and foreign researchers and carries out its own research in scientific computing. Located at Manno near Lugano, in the southern, Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, CSCS is an autonomous unit of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

About the Cray XT5

The Cray XT5 system features more than 14,000 AMD Opteron cores for performance in excess of 140 teraflops. It’s accessed by CSCS users working in fields as diverse as chemistry, physics, material sciences, climatology, geology, biology, genetics, experimental medicine, astronomy, mathematics and computer sciences. The Cray XT5 supercomputer at CSCS also features cooling technology designed to remove the heat generated by the system’s processors without using air handlers, thus saving a significant amount of energy.

As the world’s most scalable Linux supercomputer, the Cray XT5 system combines sustained application performance with exceptional manageability and reliability. Using powerful AMD Opteron processors, the Cray XT5 system supports both Cray XT4 blades for optimized compute-to-communications balance and Cray XT5 blades optimized for memory-intensive and/or compute-biased workloads. The Cray XT5 system introduces ECOphlex technology, packaging and design features that promote energy savings along two dimensions: by enabling greater system density and by reducing the need for expensive air cooling and air conditioners. The system’s Cray Linux Environment enables optimized performance across a broad range of applications.

For additional data center videos, check out our DCK video archive and the Data Center Videos channel on YouTube. Also please visit our High-Performance Computing channel for related news.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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