Virginia Tech prepares to deploy Apple supercomputer

Virginia Polytechnic and State University is racing to deploy its new supercomputer cluster based on Apple Computer Inc.'s G5 desktops by Oct. 1 in order to make the next ranking of the Top 500 list.

Faculty and students hope to set up the 1,100-node Terascale Computing Facility by the end of this week, said Lynn Nystrom, a Virginia Tech spokeswoman. The university thinks the new cluster will rank among the top 10 fastest supercomputers deployed at academic institutions, and among the fastest overall in the world, she said.

Virginia Tech announced the cluster earlier this month. It will cost the university US$5.2 million spread out over a five-year period, Nystrom said.

Each node uses two 2.0GHz PowerPC 970 processors made by IBM Corp. and comes with 4G bytes of memory and 160G bytes of storage. The PowerPC 970 chip, like Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s Opteron chip., is a 64-bit processor that can also run 32-bit applications.

Virginia Tech chose the Apple systems for its cluster because of the price/performance benefits of a cluster based on the G5 desktop, Nystrom said .

The cluster uses the Infiniband interconnect technology from Mellanox Technologies Inc. and Gigabit Ethernet switches from Cisco Systems Inc. An internally developed software package known as "Deja vu" will be used to ensure the system is fault tolerant.

Virginia Tech plans to use the cluster to attract research projects in areas such as quantum chemistry, computational biochemistry, and cell cycle modeling, among others.

"This (cluster) allows us to do the big science research projects we couldn't do in the past," Nystrom said. "We're the only university in Virginia in the top 50 academic research institutions, and we want to be in the top 30 by 2010, and we need a supercomputer to meet those goals." Virgina Tech is ranked 49th in the U.S. as measured by research expenditures, just ahead of the California Institute of Technology.

The university will present its benchmarking information to the Top 500 rankings ( by the Oct. 1 deadline, Nystrom said. The final scores will be released some time in November, she said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?