New supercomputer Alarik fastest in southern Sweden
02 May 2012
A new supercomputer – faster and cleverer than all the others has been inaugurated and put to use at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH). The new acquisition is called Alarik and is twice as powerful as the previously most advanced computer.
Alarik is now ready to serve new and old ‟customers” within and outside LU together with some of the older supercomputers which are still in use within Lunarc, which is a skills centre for scientific and technical calculations and hosts the new supercomputer.
In addition to performance which is approximately twice as powerful as the best previous supercomputer, Platon, Alarik offers a new opportunity for researchers to view results of ongoing calculations directly on their own computer screens.
“We hope that this will enable Alarik to be used by new groups who previously did not dare to use these powerful resources” says Lunarc’s director Jonas Lindemann.
The new supercomputer – absolutely the most powerful in southern Sweden – has been partially financed by the Swedish Research Council and costs SEK six million.
At the inauguration at the Faculty of Engineering’s Vattenhallen Science Centre, Lunarc chair Professor Göran Sandberg, from Engineering Acoustics, explained that five faculties are already part of the cooperation that began in 1986. This summer Alarik will acquire a brother, Erik, who is even faster – fastest in Sweden.
This is possible thanks to the use of fast GPUs, i.e. graphics processors.
“Visualising data-heavy MR images with Erik can go twenty times faster than with ordinary processors” explained Anders Follin, technical director, who is one of the experts who can help users to set up tests.
“We want to demystify the supercomputers both through the new user-friendly technology, the interface and by helping researchers who may not have a lot of computer science knowledge”, said Anders Follin.
At the inauguration, senior lecturer Kent Persson from the Department of Construction Sciences demonstrated the calculation of the vibrations in the Max IV building. The vibrations are not permitted to exceed 26 nano¬metres (one three-thousandth of a hair’s breadth) in sensitive points so it is not optimal that the E22 motorway with its heavy lorry traffic is only a hundred metres away. But the traffic vibrations have a long wavelength, it turns out, and will not affect the situation so much in the sensitive magnets that are close to each other.
On application, research projects will be awarded free CPU time according to their needs. A trial account can be obtained immediately, says Anders Follin. Among the major users at Lunarc are Lund Bio Imaging Centre, Humlab, 7T and MAX-lab, as well as researchers from Cern.
Footnote: Alarik and Erik are names from the Ynglingsaga of the Viking era. According to the saga, they are to have killed each other with the bit from a horse’s bridle.
Text: MATS NYGREN
Alarik consists of 228 connected servers with 3 776 processor cores. This provides a theoretical top performance of 40 Teraflops (40 * 1012 floating point operations per second).
The 208 nodes each have up to 128 GB of internal memory.
After applying to Lunarc, research projects are awarded free CPU time according to their needs. A trial account can be obtained immediately. It is also possible to use Lunarc’s capacity to store large amounts of data to which research may give rise.
Major users of Lunarc include Lund Bio Imaging Centre, Humlab, 7T and MAX-lab, as well as researchers at Cern.
The supercomputer is funded by the Swedish Research Council through SNIC, Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, of whose national network Lunarc is a member.
The supplier of the hardware (servers with CDUs of the type AMD Interlogos 6220 3.0 GHz) is South¬pole AB whereas configuration and installation of the software was done by Lunarc’s own staff.
More information is available on www.lunarc.lu.se
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