As NYU Abu Dhabi's researchers set about solving a range of scientific problems related to climate change, molecular structures, genome composition, and the like, there is one thing they have in common — the requirement to conduct highly complex numerical calculations.
The Fastest Computational Power in the UAE
NYUAD's high-performance computer (HPC) cluster offers the fastest and most advanced computational power both in the NYU network and in the UAE to support the needs of the NYUAD research community. This state-of-the-art resource was built by Hewlett-Packard and flown to the UAE, where it is currently hosted by Injazat, a leading information technology and business process services provider in the region, in a secure Tier IV data center that meets the industry's most stringent qualifications. Redundant links, which support reliable and fast data transfer, have been established between NYUAD's Downtown Campus, Sama Tower, and the Center for Science and Engineering (CSE) and the data center.
Named BuTinah after a marine-protected archipelago reserve off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the supercomputer will be one of the fastest in the region and was ranked in the June 2012 listings of the TOP500, an industry ranking of HPCs around the world.
Supercomputer performance is generally measured by Floating Point Operations Per Second (FLOPS), which reflect the system's ability to perform a number of 64-bit floating point operations, or linear equations, per second. BuTinah runs at approximately 70 teraFLOPS, and consists of 512 super-dense compute nodes contained in 15 temperature-controlled cabinets. Each compute node has a memory capacity of at least 48 gigabytes, with eight large memory nodes that have 192 gigabytes of RAM, and a dedicated one-terabyte node for the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology. In addition to these, there are 16 nodes with NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) used for very specialized calculations, and 16 visualization nodes, which play an integral role in translating data into images, with additional support nodes providing archival storage, networking, backup, management, and log-in functions for the system. The HPC's temperature is managed through internal water-cooled modular systems that run air conditioning through the cabinets and through a closed, cold aisle of cabinets facing each other.
This system not only provides an essential and efficient resource for NYUAD research centers and faculty members, it provides an important opportunity for research collaborations between NYUAD and other institutions across the UAE and the Gulf region.
Serial and Parallel Jobs
BuTinah will improve efficiency of running computational experiments by assisting with both serial jobs, which use one processor at a time, and parallel jobs that require the support of multiple processors.
"If someone has a serial requirement, needing only one processor, but has 100 jobs with each taking a week to run, it would take 100 weeks to complete the job using a regular PC," NYUAD HPC Manager Muataz Al-Barwani explained. "The HPC provides a form of task farming, allowing the researcher to submit all 100 serial jobs to be processed at the same time and have the results within a week. For parallel jobs that cannot be completed on a single processor, the researcher can break down the problem and spread it across multiple processors; the HPC can then perform all of the calculations and combine the results."
An Opportunity for Research Collaborations
The HPC system has more than 6,000 processors, with the average research user requiring 100 to 1,000 processors for a project at a given time. The system resources are managed by a scheduler that accepts requests and allocates system usage based on available capacity. Researchers can then connect to the HPC using their personal computers to run experiments and computations on their applications that have been installed on the HPC.
"This system not only provides an essential and efficient resource for NYUAD research centers and faculty members, it provides an important opportunity for research collaborations between NYUAD and other institutions across the UAE and the Gulf region," NYUAD Chief Information Officer Yousif Asfour said.
BuTinah is connected to Ankabut, the UAE's national research and education network, providing high-speed connectivity between educational, research, and non-profit organizations in the country.