New Supercomputer Arrives in Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska - The Arctic Region Supercomputing Center today announced the arrival of a new CRAY J932 vector supercomputer. Since the new machine will complement the massively parallel CRAY T3E named Yukon already in use at the center, ARSC staff named the new machine Chilkoot after the trail that brought gold miners to the riches of the Yukon a century ago. The new Cray mainframe arrived last week and will be available to users by late April. Chilkoot will be used to manage the large volumes of data generated by ARSC users and as a high performance vector supercomputer. Chilkoot , along with Yukon , will replace the CRAY Y-MP named Denali , the flagship supercomputer which ARSC opened its doors with in 1992. Denali is expected to be decommissioned in late May. Three key factors entered into the decision to settle on the J-932 and replace Denali . Staff at the University of Alaska Fairbanks supercomputing center clearly recognized needs for improved capabilities to manage the rapidly increasing demands for data handling and storage. The six-year-old Y-MP is already approaching obsolescence--Cray plans no future upgrades of the system software and operating it is significantly more costly than operating newer machines. In addition, some ARSC users continue to rely on large memory vector processing capability. ARSC director Frank Williams and his staff decided to take a multi-purpose approach--they chose one system to meet all of these needs. "We achieve a huge bonus by doing it this way," Williams said. "We just had to solve this data storage problem, and solve it quickly. The J932 provides a solution to several problems, and with it we are preparing the way for new supercomputing architectures in the future." Another factor in the decision to select the J932 and to retire Denali was cost savings. For example, annual hardware maintenance costs will be reduced by almost seventy five percent. Electric consumption for operating and cooling the machine will be reduced by half. Williams estimated that the combined savings are over half a million dollars per year. "It's also important to point out that bringing Chilkoot to campus brought enhancements at no cost to the university or the State of Alaska," Williams said. Federal funding for ARSC provides supercomputing resources for non-classified research conducted by government agencies as well as academic researchers. Most of the federal projects, Williams pointed out, are very similar to research conducted by scientists at UAF's Geophysical Institute, the Institute of Marine Science and the Institute of Northern Engineering. Chilkoot is initially configured with 12 central processing units (CPUs), eight gigabytes (GB) of memory and more than 290 GB of disk space; it has ample room for future expansion. Over the next few months, ARSC staff will be evaluating user needs for additional processors, faster processors and additional memory. ARSC staff will assist users in moving between the two systems. The Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, located in the Butrovich building on the UAF main campus, supports high performance computational research in science and engineering with an emphasis on the high latitudes and the Arctic.

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