OIT has once again partnered with PICSciE (Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering) and Princeton faculty members to acquire an additional, significant new high-performance supercomputer for the University. The new system, dubbed Della, is a “beowulf” computer cluster; that is, a single supercomputer made out of many individual, small computers. Once operational, Della will join the University’s two other supercomputers, Orangena and Hecate, to place Princeton in the forefront of computational research capabilities among its peer institutions.
Della comprises 256 individual Dell computers, each containing two Xeon (Intel) 3.2 gigahertz processors, for a total of 512 individual processors. Each processor has 4 gigabytes of RAM adding up to a total of 2 Terabytes of RAM. The cluster also has 3 terabytes of disk space for storing results and data. The individual computers comprising Della are interconnected using high-speed (gigabit) ethernet networking; one quarter of the processors are also interconnected using infiniband (10 gig low latency) networking.
Della, Orangena, and Hecate will form a triumvirate of supercomputers housed in OIT’s machine room and jointly managed by OIT and PICSciE. Each of the three machines has different performance profiles that will make them suitable for handling different kinds of computational tasks. Orangena is specialized for handling computations that can take advantage of its large numbers of processors (2048), but do not require considerable per-processor RAM memory. Hecate is specialized for computations that require a massive amount of shared memory, but not necessarily many processors. Della falls in-between; it has fewer processors than Orangena, but each processor is faster and has more memory than the Orangena processors. It is therefore suitable for problems that can take advantage of numerous processors each with signficant amounts of RAM.
Most of the processors that make up Della have arrived at OIT’s machine room and the cluster is now being assembled. Full assembly is expected by end of March. The cluster will not be fully operational, however, until the end of April, because it requires additions to the power and cooling infra-structure in OIT’s machine room (Della draws 100 Kwatts of power and requires nearly 30 tons of cooling).
Posted by Lorene Lavora