Jefferson Lab cluster tops 100 teraflops

Oct 15, 2010 By Kandice Carter

The fastest computer system in Hampton Roads has booted up with more than 100 Teraflops of processing power. Located at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, the cluster computer system was recently upgraded with video game components to assist scientists in modeling the smallest bits of matter in the universe.

"Our resources crossed 100 Teraflops of sustained processing while running a science application. We finally hit the peak in late September," said Chip Watson, manager of Jefferson Lab's High-Performance Computing group in the Information Technology Division.

The supercomputer, called Hadron, was built with components that were purchased and cobbled together over the last year. It runs on both cards and ordinary computer processors. About 90 percent of its computing power comes from the video game graphics processing units, or GPUs.

The Hadron system contains 480 GPUs and 266 CPUs mounted inside computing chassis and screwed into racks side by side. Two parts run mainly on GPUs, dubbed 9g and 10g ('g' for GPU).

"We bought two different types of GPUs. We bought gaming cards, and we bought in the professional line for supercomputing. These cards are similar to the gaming cards, but they are configured somewhat differently and have error-correcting code built-in," Watson explained. "Some calculations we can do equally well on either card, and we do those calculations on the gaming cards. There are some calculations that involve much more, and those have to be on the professional-quality cards."

Hadron is being used to compute how the building blocks of matter, quarks, build the protons, neutrons and other particles that makeup everyday matter.

"GPUs are being used solely for propagator calculations - computing how a quark will move from one point in space to another point," said Robert Edwards, a senior staff scientist in Jefferson Lab's Theory group.

Once those calculations are done, the scientists then take the results and use them on a CPU-powered cluster computer. "We take the results from the GPUs and we tie this group of quarks together to make mesons or baryons. From this, we can compute the mass of these particles and their excited states," Edwards explained.

Watson used about $1 million of a nearly $5 million grant received as part of ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funding under the auspices of the Department of Energy's USQCD (US Quantum Chromodynamics) collaboration to purchase the 352 gaming cards and 128 professional graphics cards and associated hardware currently installed in the Hadron system. A chunk of the grant also went toward funding the effort to create computer code to adapt the GPUs for scientific computing.

Watson said that some of the GPUs and CPUs purchased for Hadron are still undergoing testing before being added to the system. "When we get all of the GPU systems running, the GPUs alone will exceed 100 Teraflops," he said.

In the meantime, Watson said he and his team continue to monitor the marketplace for the next big leap in technology.

"It looks like GPUs will be the hot topic for the next two or three years. We're keeping an eye on several technologies that could develop, and we're looking for something better that comes along," Watson said. "But it's been a fun year deploying this disruptive technology. Quite a fun year."

Explore further: Toshiba to launch world's fastest microSD memory cards

More information: An article about the first portion of the Hadron system (9g) to come online is available here: www.jlab.org/news/OnTarget/2010/2010-06/Story1.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New computer cluster gets its grunt from games

Nov 25, 2009

Technology designed to blast aliens in computer games is part of a new GPU (Graphics Processing Units) computer cluster that will process CSIRO research data thousands of times faster and more efficiently ...

Software tool helps tap into the power of graphics processing

May 17, 2010

Today's computers rely on powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) to create the spectacular graphics in video games. In fact, these GPUs are now more powerful than the traditional central processing units (CPUs) - or brains ...

NVIDIA Announced New Geforce GTX 200 GPUs

Jun 16, 2008

Imagine instead of taking over five hours to convert a video for your iPod, it only takes 35 minutes. Imagine using your PC to simulate protein folding to help find a cure for debilitating diseases. Imagine ...

NVIDIA Ushers In the Era of Personal Supercomputing

Jun 21, 2007

High-performance computing in fields like the geosciences, molecular biology, and medical diagnostics enable discoveries that transform billions of lives every day. Universities, research institutions, and ...

Recommended for you

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

5 hours ago

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

18 hours ago

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

18 hours ago

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

18 hours ago

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

Apr 18, 2014

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...