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Hewlett-Packard Systems Arrive at Pittsburgh

With exceptional memory bandwidth, the new systems complement LeMieux, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's terascale system.

PITTSBURGH, March 4, 2003 — The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has received two GS1280 AlphaServers from Hewlett-Packard (HP), each housing 16 of the newest generation of the powerful Alpha processor, the EV7. HP introduced the new servers on Jan. 20.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk

PSC's two new systems — dubbed Jonas and Rachel, for Jonas Salk and Rachel Carson — are among the first GS1280s to roll out of HP production. Each has 32 gigabytes of shared memory, and each represents the first phase of what eventually will be two larger GS1280 systems at PSC. One of the systems, Jonas, will be dedicated to biomedical research, and the other, Rachel, will support NSF science and engineering.

Named by PSC staff to honor significant Pittsburgh contributions to science, Rachel and Jonas will complement LeMieux, PSC's terascale system — the most powerful system in the United States committed to public research.

"The memory structure of this system represents a significant advance for scientific computing," said PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies in a joint statement. "It will make a difference in several important areas, including quantum chemistry and genomics."

The new systems have a shared memory architecture and exceptional "memory bandwidth" — the speed at which data transfers between hardware memory and the processor. Benchmark tests have demonstrated that the GS1280 memory bandwidth is five to ten times greater than comparable systems.

Compared to LeMieux, which comprises 3,000 EV68 Alpha processors, the EV7s of the GS1280 provide a 15 percent speedup per processor. LeMieux, has four gigabytes of memory available per server (each server houses four processors), but the memory is not shared — with full access from all processors in the system — as it is with the GS1280s.

Acquisition of Rachel is part of a $35 million grant from NSF in October 2002 to harness PSC's systems into a national research "grid" called TeraGrid. A recent $1.3 million award to PSC from NIH's National Center for Research Resources supports acquisition of Jonas.

Rachel Carson, who grew up near Pittsburgh and graduated from Pittsburgh's Chatham College, jump-started modern environmentalism with her 1962 book SILENT SPRING, about the hazards of insecticides. Working at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine. When approved for use in 1955, his vaccine stopped further spread of the crippling disease.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.


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Michael Schneider
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

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