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Cisco High Performance Computing Products Support World’s Largest Supercomputing Sites


Cisco® (NASDAQ: CSCO) announced today its continued leadership as the open system interconnect vendor of choice for the top 50 High Performance Computing (HPC) server clusters based on the latest Top500® list. The Cisco leading family of HPC products includes high performance InfiniBand switching products and cost effective feature-rich Ethernet fixed and modular switching chassis. Most notable on this year’s Top500 list is the continued adoption of open system interconnect technologies, specifically InfiniBand, as the preferred high throughput, low latency technology of choice. Cisco technology has been installed in six out of the top 10 InfiniBand interconnected clusters, and deployed in hundreds of academic, research, and industry server clusters throughout the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Within the top ten super computers, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has the most powerful open system interconnect cluster, named Abe. NCSA has chosen Cisco SFS 7000 series InfiniBand products for building a 90 Teraflop compute fabric, with over 1200 interconnected X86 servers. The Cisco InfiniBand interconnect provides high-speed communication capability, enabling users to run tightly coupled applications that achieve high levels of scaling. NCSA is one of the five original centers in the National Science Foundation’s Supercomputer Centers Program. The center operates some of the world most powerful supercomputers, and is recognized as an international leader in deploying robust high-performance computing resources and in working with research communities to develop new computing and software technologies.

“Abe supports computationally challenging problems in production jobs typically using over 1000 cores,” said Mike Pflugmacher Assistant Director of Computing and Data Management at NCSA. “A stable, high performance interconnect is an absolute requirement for our needs, and we rely on Cisco’s considerable expertise in implementing very large systems.”

At the Statoil facilities in Stavanger, Norway, Cisco InfiniBand technology is used to interconnect the largest supercomputer in Scandinavia, ranked #151 in the top 500, and capable of executing twelve-thousand billion calculations (12 teraflops) per second with a cluster of 256 interconnected servers with 1,024 processors. The supercomputer is important for the realization of next generation oil exploration, helping to analyze many interpretations with different models to determine where the company should drill.

“Computing power plays a decisive role in providing better images of the geology several kilometers under the subsurface, especially in areas with demanding geological structures,” said Mr. Halsetrønning, project manager for the server cluster at Statoil. “We believe the combination of Cisco InfiniBand switches and HP servers provides a leading high performance clustering solution today to help resolve our complex models in a timely and accurate manner.”

The Stanford University Bio-X2 cluster is the result of an NSF-funded research proposal submitted by 21 Bio-X affiliated faculty, representing 13 departments and 4 schools at Stanford. The purpose of the cluster is to facilitate biological research problems ranging in scale from molecules to organisms. This #54 ranked supercomputer runs 276 Dell PowerEdge 1950 servers using dual quad Intel Xeon processors. The servers are interconnected with InfiniBand Dual-Data Rate to a central Cisco SFS 7024D 288 port switch, and this fabric is the heart of the cluster, enabling multi-node parallel computations and the use of the Lustre file system for high performance data access.

“The Bio-X2 supercluster is used to solve complex problems and facilitate innovative interdisciplinary research at Stanford University,” said Tanya Raschke, IT Manager at the James H. Clark Center. “Consolidating compute resources enables researchers to solve much larger problems than would be possible if each department were funding and managing their own cluster. The high quality of the Cisco DDR Server Fabric Switch line allows us to focus less on managing the cluster and more on doing cutting-edge life sciences research.”

One of the largest computing centers in the world, Cineca provides computing power for 65 Italian universities, research and government organizations. Cineca recently deployed Cisco high performance computing (HPC) InfiniBand and Ethernet networks to help researchers accelerate projects, make better investment decisions, and reduce research and development costs. “As one of Europe’s leading computing centers, demand for our high-performance computing services and facilities to support vital research and development projects is increasing all the time,” said Sanzio Bassini, director of Cineca’s System and Technology Department. “With our latest technology, we can now help with projects such as assessing and improving risk management if Mount Vesuvius erupts, or developing a new generation in molecular dynamics.”

The Cisco family of high performance server switching products offers best-in-class scalability, high availability, and security, with common management tools, common configuration interfaces, and a common virtualization provisioning platform designed to provide comprehensive and consistent management regardless of the protocol used. To provide common administration, troubleshooting, and security best practices, Cisco has integrated its high performance Ethernet and InfiniBand products together with common management tools. Cisco provides vertical-based solutions for the leading HPC application areas including: finance, computer aided engineering (CAE), oil and gas, semiconductor, government and academia. Cisco works with leading independent software and hardware vendors in each ecosystem to qualify and benchmark solutions for these industries.

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