Texas Advanced Computing Center to Deploy $9 Million Lonestar System for Open Science Community

The National Science Foundation (NSF), The University of Texas at Austin, and multiple partners have committed $9 million to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to acquire a new Lonestar system that is expected to support more than 1,000 research projects in science and engineering over three years.

William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, said, "We thank the National Science Foundation for supporting UT's high-performance computing (HPC) system, enabling us and the national research community to conduct transformational science. As we did with the Ranger supercomputer, we want to make Lonestar a showcase system for researchers in Texas and throughout the world."

TACC, in partnership with Dell, Intel, Mellanox Technologies and DataDirect Networks, will deploy an HPC system designed for achieving excellent performance on the workload of applications running on the NSF TeraGrid. The new Lonestar system will replace the current Lonestar, which has served as one of the most productive platforms in the TeraGrid for more almost four years, and will offer greater capabilities over the current system, including:

  • 302 teraflops peak performance: five-fold increase in peak, but likely a 10-fold in delivered performance.
  • 44.3 terabytes total memory: four-fold increase, and available at much higher bandwidth.
  • 1.2 petabytes raw disk: 10-fold increase.
  • 90 million CPU hours/year to TeraGrid: seven times the allocation level on the current system.

The computational building blocks of the system will be a total of 1,888 Dell M610 PowerEdge blade servers, each with two six-core Intel Xeon 5600 "Westmere" processors. This will provide nearly 200 million CPU hours per year. DataDirect Networks will provide the high-speed disk storage and a Mellanox 40Gb/s InfiniBand network will integrate all of these components to enable tremendous performance on a wide range of applications.

"We surveyed the TeraGrid user and resources landscape and determined the greatest need is for more high-end HPC system capacity with better delivered performance," said TACC Director Jay Boisseau. "We evaluated the potential for real impact on scientific applications in terms of total sustained performance, scalability and total number of cycles. We believe the new Lonestar will become the system of choice for researchers with codes that are either memory bandwidth or interconnect bandwidth bound -- which is true for many simulation-based applications."

Once deployed, Lonestar will be the third largest system in the TeraGrid and should rank among the most powerful academic supercomputers in the world. TACC also maintains Ranger, the second largest system in the TeraGrid. Lonestar will be made available for a small number of users in December 2010 and for general use by TeraGrid allocations early in 2011.

While Lonestar will support a national audience of scientists, two-thirds of the funding will advance research at leading institutions and centers working on research funded by the NSF and other federal funding agencies. The University of Texas at Austin, Texas AandM University, Texas Tech University and several research groups, including UT's Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, are also contributing to this project.

"Texas AandM is excited to be part of this significant collaboration," said R. Bowen Loftin, president of Texas AandM University. "Advancing fundamental research in computational science and engineering is of vital importance to our researchers at Texas AandM. We're pleased that our faculty will benefit from the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the collaboration with UT Austin in HPC systems. We look forward to Lonestar's deployment for the benefit of science and discovery here in the state of Texas."

Guy Bailey, president of Texas Tech University, said, "At Texas Tech, we're aggressively building our research infrastructure and access to resources to provide our faculty and students with new opportunities for research and education. This partnership with UT Austin and TACC will help us ensure that our researchers have access to the best computational technology available."

In addition to the open science community, TACC is committed to making a significant impact on the integration of technology and research in industry through its Science and Technology Affiliates for Research program. Lonestar will be a platform for new industry partnerships developing parallel applications with a special focus on energy sector companies.

The TeraGrid, sponsored by the NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure, is a partnership of people, resources and services that enables discovery in U.S. science and engineering. Through coordinated policy, grid software and high-performance network connections, TeraGrid integrates a distributed set of high-capability computational, data-management and visualization resources to make research more productive. TeraGrid resources include more than two petaflops of combined computing capability and more than 50 petabytes of online and archival data storage from 11 resource provider sites across the nation.