Countdown To SC08 Continues: KISTI & OCBN
By marchamilton on Nov 13, 2008
The history of the new Sun open petascale system at KISTI, like my trips to Korea, goes back a number of years. KISTI is Korea's national HPC center and one of the leading HPC centers in Asia. National pride runs deep in Asian culture and Asian supercomputer centers have long competed to match each other in supercomputing capabilities. Up until the middle of this decade, Asian supercomputers had long been dominated by proprietary Japanese and US systems. In early 2005, I started working not in Korea but across the ocean in Japan with Andy Bechtolsheim and Professor Satoshi Matsuoka of the Tokyo Institute of Technology to architect a supercomputer that would be faster than the reigning Asian champion, the crosstown Earth Simulator which had stood since March 2002 as Asia's fastest supercomputer. This work resulted in TSUBAME, deployed in March 2006 as Asia's newest, fastest supercomputer. What was so different about TSUBAME was that it was based not on proprietary designs but on open, industry standards including Sun Galaxy x64 servers, Sun Thumper storage servers running the open source Lustre file system, and InfiniBand networking. TSUBAME's deployment forever changed the landscape of Asian supercomputing.
As much as Asian supercomputer centers compete for national pride, they also collaborate, and Professor Matsuoka, as well as Dr. Simon See of Sun's Asian Pacific Science and Technology Center were both actively involved with research projects at KISTI. KISTI of course wanted to know about the new open technology behind TSUBAME and the rest is history. Next week, at SC08, this story will be repeated as we discuss several other new supercomputers from Sun being deployed across Asia Pacific.
Now back to North America, and the Ontario Cancer Biomarker Network is based on an OpenSPARC architecture. Using Sun SPARC Enterprise T5140 servers running 128 threads in parallel, OCBN is using the T5140s to address new advances in cancer bioinformatics research. With their industry leading performance/watt and watt/core advantage, the T5140 and other Sun coolthreads servers, OpenSPARC continues to gain traction as a commodity HPC platform. And just like the KISTI architecture was influenced by TiTech, OCBN was influenced by the earlier selection of Sun coolthreads servers by HPCVL, which operates a cluster of 78 T5140's for HPC research as well as a cluster of eight M9000's each with 256 SPARC64 compute cores. OCBN is in fact co-located at HPCVL.