Trinity College Dublin buys IBM supercomputer

31 Aug 2005

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has installed a €1.4m IBM supercomputer that will enable researchers to tackle some of the largest computational science challenges in the world.

The university has installed IBM’s largest InfiniBand Cluster in Europe. The cluster is equivalent to approximately 1,000 PCs with super fast communications between each processor.

The €1.4m supercomputer, funded through the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA) Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions, is part of the Institute for Information Technology and Advanced Computing (IITAC) at TCD — a €9m research project tackling some of the largest computational science challenges in the world.

The supercomputer will be listed in the next Top 500 supercomputer list to be announced at a supercomputing conference in Seattle this November. The recent upgrade in TCD’s hardware comprises a 712 processor Opteron cluster with 10Gbps connectivity provided by and leveraging Voltaire’s 288 port switch for high-speed InfiniBand connectivity.

Dr Graeme Watson, director of the TCD’s High Performance Computing, explained: “The impact of this programme on computational science in Ireland cannot be underestimated. The computing resource facilitates the development of larger and more complex simulations. Areas to benefit include cancer research, new drug design and development, anti-malaria vaccines, the development of pollution controls and new electronic devices.”

“TCD needed fast performance, low latency and a solution that could scale in order to accelerate important research and scientific discoveries,” said John Asher, vice-president of European sales at Voltaire, a leader in interconnect solutions for high-performance grid computing. “We are very pleased that the university selected Voltaire’s 288 port switch with the IBM cluster to tackle its complex computing challenges.”

This phase of the IITAC project has funded 35 PhD students, 12 postdoctoral researchers and provides technical expertise and project management. It is the second HEA-funded research programme, following an investment of €10m in 2000, into a purpose-built computational science environment in the newly opened Lloyd Institute on the campus.

“Using industry-standard platforms and technologies, this powerful cluster is poised to help further the advancement of science and computer technology,” said Diana Grimmer, worldwide Linux product marketing manager, IBM Systems and Technology Group. “This new system places TCD at the forefront of high-performance computing and should go a long way towards helping solve some of the world’s toughest problems, such as cancer research and help scientists identify cures for diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria.”

By John Kennedy