Linux NetworX Announces Contract for World's Most Powerful Linux Cluster

by Richard Vernon

Today Linux NetworX announced their contract with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to design and build what will qualify as both the most powerful Linux cluster and the fastest Intel-based computer in the world. Linux NetworX plans to deliver the gargantua by fall 2002 and will call it Evolocity.

Evolocity will group 1,920 Intel 2.4GHz Xeon processors with a theoretical peak of 9.2 Teraflops, or 9.2 trillion calculations per second. We're still waiting to find out how many BogoMips that translates to. When delivered, the cluster is expected to be one of the five fastest supercomputers in the world.

Additional fun facts include:

  • The Linux NetworX system is seven times more powerful than Deep Blue, the IBM computer that beat world chess champion Garry Kasperov in 1997.

  • Compared to the average home PC, the Linux NetworX system will have the same amount of processing power as 9,200 PCs and can do in one day what would take the average PC 25 years to complete.

  • The Linux NetworX system could assemble the human genome in 21 days, compared to the 150 days it took the Compaq Alpha Cluster that Celera used.

  • The Linux NetworX system can hold the entire Library of Congress in memory four times over.

  • The Linux NetworX system is 4.6 times more powerful than the Sun Enterprise render farm used by Pixar to create the movie Monsters Inc.

As might be expected, the cluster is Intel-based. Lisa Hambrick of Intel sees the project as historic because it "represents a viable method of using standards-based technologies to create some of the fastest supercomputers in the world".

LLNL cites LinuxBIOS (which will be running on all nodes) as one of the many reasons why they chose Linux and Linux NetworX for their supercomputing needs. LinuxBIOS is an open alternative BIOS designed for Linux clusters--it boots nodes quickly, has minimal hardware requirements and allows for remote management. Linux Journal readers will remember the Kernel Korner article on LinuxBIOS we ran in the December 2001 issue. The article was written by one of the principal LinuxBIOS developers and Linux NetworX software engineer Eric Biederman.

LLNL will use the Evolocity for a variety of programs that support LLNL's mission of national security. This involves research in the scientific fields of materials science, physics, biology and chemistry, as well as in the environmental fields, such as atmospheric chemistry. LLNL states the supercomputer will be used for unclassified scientific research and development.

To help LLNL learn to play well with their new toy, Linux NetworX will provide a three-year maintenance contract tailored to LLNL's needs. They will also integrate and build up the system at a facility in Utah beforehand to ensure a smooth final installation in the LLNL's facility in Livermore, California. In addition, Linux NetworX will maintain a smaller version of the supercomputer, consisting of 30 nodes, at their Supercomputing Center in Salt Lake City, Utah to aid in troubleshooting issues and development.

For further information on Linux NetworX LLNL cluster see the Evolocity factsheet.

Richard Vernon is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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