Appro Signs Weapons Lab Supercomputer Deal

Three federal weapons labs will team up to buy supercomputing packages.

Appro, a relatively unknown but highly regarded provider of high-performance enterprise computing systems, announced Oct. 2 that three major federal weapons labs will purchase and install its Xtreme-X high-performance computing clusters.

This is the first time, under a single contract, that the three labs—Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories—will purchase the same high-performance computing systems for deployment at all three sites, Appro spokesperson John Lee told eWEEK.

The $26 million agreement under the new TLCC (Tri-Lab Linux Capacity Cluster) program calls for Appro to provide eight rack-mounted clusters with aggregate peak performance of 437 teraflops and 96.8 aggregate terabytes of memory. A $15.8 million contract option could boost these totals to 620 teraflops and 143 terabytes of memory, an Appro spokesperson said.

The TLCC07 program is a contract between Lawrence Livermore and Appro to provide scalable Linux high-performance clusters, Lee said.

This project consists of a total of 3,024 nodes and 12,096 processors/48,384 cores with up to 96.8TB of memory.


Click here to read more about supercomputer clusters Appro has delivered to Lawrence Livermore Labs.

These high-performance clusters will be based on Advanced Micro Devices quad-core Opteron processors connected with a two-stage InfiniBand 20G-bps 4X DDR (double data rate) fabric featuring Voltaire Grid Director 288-port core switches. They feature the latest Mellanox Technologies ConnectX IB 20G-bps dual-port InfiniBand adapters and ConnectX EN dual-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet NICs (network interface cards) for storage cluster connectivity, Lee said.

The clusters will be deployed to the three labs starting in late 2007 and through early 2008.

These massively scalable Red Hat Enterprise Linux clusters will be used principally to provide needed computational support to the National Nuclear Security Administrations nuclear weapons programs, notably Stockpile Stewardship—the program to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nations nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.

Additional computing capacity is needed for such efforts as completion of the National Ignition Facilitys laser fusion project by 2010, implementation of updated computer codes for nuclear weapons certification and a program to extend the life of existing weapons in the stockpile.

"This is a win-win for Appro and the DOE [Department of Energy]," said Steve Conway, IDC research vice president of technical computing. "With its modular Scalable Unit architecture, Appro captured a large, 12,000-plus processor, highly sought-after HPC procurement and will assist the DOE in its critical core mission."

The DOE employed a comprehensive and extensive purchasing strategy for its capacity computing needs, Conway said, with a focus on exploiting the economies of scale and taking the longer view of TCO (total cost of ownership).

"IDC expects that cluster-based supercomputing will soon represent over 75 percent of all technical servers," Conway said.

The TLCC07 program started when the Advanced Simulation and Computing Program Office in collaboration with Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories introduced the project to significantly reduce TCO for deploying several large-scale production capacity compute clusters at the Tri-Lab sites, Lee said.

The key to this effort is standardizing the hardware and software for next-generation Linux clusters at the Tri-Labs, Lee said.

On the hardware side, this standardization is based on a new innovative SU (scalable units) design that allows rapid manufacture, delivery, acceptance and integration of multiple Linux clusters. The idea is that by purchasing a total of 21 SUs (437 teraflops per second) over two years, tremendous economies of scale are generated to reduce TCO components of SU cost, integration time and manpower, hardware, system, and application software support costs, Lee said.

The deal with the laboratories represents the third contract Appro has been awarded during the last two years.

Appro is headquartered is in Milpitas, Calif., with an R&D/manufacturing center in Asia and a sales and service office in Houston. For additional information, go here.


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...