Press Archive

SDSC Acquires 64-Processor Sun HPC 10000 Supercomputing Platform for NPACI Allocations and Strategic Collaborations

Acquisition is first high-performance Sun system available to nation's academic researchers through NSF program

Published 10/20/1999

David Hart, SDSC,, 858-534-8314

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- October 20, 1999 -- In a continuing collaboration with Sun Microsystems, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) recently installed a 64-processor Sun HPC 10000 Server (popularly known as the StarFire) running the Solaris Operating Environment. The Sun HPC 10000 will be used for both high-performance computing allocations for the researchers across the country and strategic collaborations to simulate magnetic recording materials and the behavior of neurons.

"This acquisition marks the transition of Sun platforms from data servers to high-end compute servers at SDSC," said Mike Vildibill, SDSC deputy director for computing resources. "We currently support over 100 Web sites and digital libraries using a collection of large Sun Enterprise servers, many of which are back-ended by large databases. Sun has long been an obvious choice for our data-intensive applications, and recent advances in software and hardware technologies make the Sun HPC 10000 an attractive number-crunching resource as well."

The new HPC 10000 will be configured with 64 400-MHz processors, 64 gigabytes of memory, and 800 GB of disk storage in a Sun StorEdge A5200, for a peak performance exceeding 50 gigaflops. Fifty percent of the machine's time will be available to scientists through the allocations process of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI). Academic researchers may find information regarding NPACI allocations at Information about Sun HPC 10000 allocations will be posted soon.

"Sun began in the education community and has always fostered a close relationship with researchers, national labs and academia and continues to demonstrate its commitment to the HPC community with investments such as those we've made at the San Diego Supercomputer Center," said Kim Jones, vice president Global Education and Research at Sun Microsystems, Inc.

The HPC 10000 will also be used for large-scale simulations through NPACI's Strategic Application Collaboration program. One project will focus on the fundamental physics codes related to magnetic recording materials developed by Neal Bertram and the Center for Magnetic Recording Research at UC San Diego. A second project will use the HPC 10000 for the GENESIS neuron simulation code developed by James Bower at Caltech.

The HPC 10000 acquisition represents the latest chapter in the collaboration between SDSC and Sun. The HPC 10000 joins a cluster of five other Sun HPC servers at SDSC which serve as high- availability data servers and development platforms. SDSC has used an earlier HPC 10000 to spearhead efforts in bioinformatics. For example, it was used as the primary processing machine for the Protein Data Bank, the single international repository for 3-D structure data on biological molecules and a crucial tool for unlocking the secrets of these molecules.

Other collaborations include integrating "data-center capabilities" into the Solaris Operating Environment and evaluating Sun proprietary technology to create a cc-NUMA cluster from several smaller Sun HPC servers. SDSC and Sun also have plans to work on data-intensive computing activities involving high-bandwidth wide- area network applications.

The National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) unites 46 universities and research institutions to build the computational environment for tomorrow's scientific discovery. Led by UC San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), NPACI is funded by the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program and receives additional support from the State and University of California, other government agencies, and partner institutions. The NSF PACI program also supports the National Computational Science Alliance. For additional information about NPACI ( and SDSC (, contact David Hart at SDSC, 858-534-8314,

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