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SDSC to Host 'Gordon' Supercomputer Workshop August 8-11

Potential Users of First Flash Memory-based Supercomputer Asked to Apply by June 24

Published 06/07/2011

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, will host a special workshop in August as the organized research unit begins deployment of a unique data-intensive, high-performance computing (HPC) system called Gordon later this year.

The 'Get Ready for Gordon - Summer Institute' will be held August 8-11 at SDSC, at the northwest end of the UC San Diego campus. The four-day workshop is designed to familiarize potential users with Gordon's unique capabilities for high-performance, data-intensive computing. Gordon is the result of a five-year, $20 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The team will start accepting allocation requests this fall, with production startup set for January 1, 2012.

Gordon will be the first high-performance supercomputer to use large amounts of flash-based SSD (solid state drive) memory. Flash memory is more common in smaller devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers, but unique for supercomputers, which generally use slower spinning-disk technology. With 250 trillion bytes of flash memory and 64 I/O nodes, Gordon will be capable of handling massive databases while providing up to 100 times faster speeds when compared to hard drive disk systems for some queries.

"We are encouraging applications from researchers engaged in data-intensive science and data mining across a diverse range of disciplines, including those who may not previously have considered leveraging supercomputing resources," said SDSC Director Michael Norman. "This includes researchers in astronomy, geosciences, and genomics, as well as economics and linguistics, just to name a few. Those with applications that serve a wide research community, such as through the use of a science gateway, are also encouraged to apply."

Data-intensive computational science that will benefit from Gordon's unique configuration includes network analyses for new drug discovery, and converting observed measurements into information about a physical object or system in oceanography, atmospheric science, and oil exploration. The system's large shared-memory system is also able to research modestly scalable codes in quantum chemistry, structural engineering, and computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) applications.

Attendee Applications due June 24

Topics covered during the "Get Ready for Gordon - Summer Institute" will include:

  • An overview of Gordon's architecture
  • Using flash to improve I/O performance of data-intensive applications
  • The use of vSMP (virtual symmetric multiprocessing) for large memory applications
  • Application profiling of data intensive applications
  • Hands-on sessions using Gordon I/O nodes and Dash, the prototype for Gordon
  • Database and data mining applications
  • Breakout sessions for researchers who provide support for data-intensive architectures such as Gordon
  • How to write a successful allocation proposal for Gordon

Applications to attend the "Get Ready for Gordon - Summer Institute" must be submitted by Friday, June 24, 2011. Applicants will receive notification of the status of their application by Friday, July 1, 2011. NSF funding for the event will cover accommodations and meals for attendees from US research and academic institutions. However, attendees are expected to cover their own travel to the UC San Diego campus. Information on submitting applications, as well as full program details, can be found at the Gordon Summer Institute website. Specific questions regarding the event may be addressed to

The Gordon Summer Institute will be held at SDSC the same time as the 8th annual Cyberinfrastructure Summer Institute for Geoscientists (CSIG'11), which will specifically focus on data-intensive computing within the geosciences. The program schedules have been designed to allow for interaction among participants of both events, and will include a common introductory session on the first day. Visit the CSIG'11 website for more information.

About SDSC
As an organized research unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is a national leader in creating and providing cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in late 2010 as one of the National Science Foundation's first supercomputer centers. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible and integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC is a founding member of TeraGrid, the nation's largest open-access scientific discovery infrastructure.

Media Contacts:
Jan Zverina, SDSC Communications
858 534-5111 or

Warren R. Froelich, SDSC Communications
858 822-3622 or

Related Links

San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC):
Gordon Technical Summary:
UC San Diego:
National Science Foundation: