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CSC to house a PRACE prototype

The PRACE project evaluated different supercomputer architectures and selected six diverse prototypes, based on a Europe-wide analysis of scientific applications. One of these prototypes is the Cray XT5, a joint project between CSC and the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS), which will be installed at CSC’s facilities in Espoo. “The opportunity to house this prototype is a significant step that ensures us a strong and influential position in the development of European cooperation,” says CSC Managing Director Kimmo Koski.

“Our success in the competition to host important research infrastructures makes Finland an attractive setting for international research at the highestlevel. It also increases our national competence in computational sciences and creates excellent opportunities for Finnish research in international competition.”

The PRACE project aims at creating a pan-European high-performance computing service of large supercomputers slated for launch between 2009 and 2010. The service is part of the European Research Area, in which the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for research and technological development is prepared to invest hundreds of millions of euros. The high-performance computing service will be open to
European researchers.

“Our goal is to install the best possible prototypes, so that we can proceed seamlessly to the production phase during 2009 and 2010,” says François Robin of the French Atomic Energy Commission. Robin headed the working group responsible for the prototype project. The Cray XT5 prototype, which will be installed at CSC, is based on a massively parallel processing architecture. Named Loviatar, this prototype will be used in the preliminary phase of the PRACE project to test and optimize code for future supercomputers. For added power, Loviatar can be used with CSC’s Louhi supercomputer. The combination generates a theoretical computing power of 100 teraflops per second. Loviatar will also be used in client projects. With the PRACE prototype, CSC will be able to offer Finnish researchers more computing power  than ever.

“This added power means that, for a while CSC has one of the highest-performance installations in Europe,” Kimmo Koski explains. “It is important to remember, however, that computing power alone does not guarantee competitive strength. A supercomputer is an important part, but data management, applications, networks, and the respective expertise are also essential components that contribute to a functioning whole. Comprehensive service,” Koski emphasizes, “is our core strength.” ■


Louhi Cray XT4/XT5:

• 2356 AMD Opteron 2.3 GHz quad-core processors, totaling 9,424 compute cores
• approximately 10.3 terabytes of total memory
• theoretical peak performance 86.7 teraflop/s

Loviatar, two Cray XT5 cabinets:

• theoretical peak performance 13.24 teraflop/s
• 360 AMD Opteron 2.3 GHz quad-core processors, totaling 1,440 compute cores
• processors to be upgraded to AMD Shanghai quad-core processors in early 2009

Combined Louhi and Loviatar theoretical peak performance of 100 teraflop/s