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Lenovo and Intel team up on interstellar research supercomputer

Written by Wed 9 Oct 2019

Lenovo and Intel hardware accelerating Flatiron Insitute’s quantum and genomics research

Lenovo and Intel have announced they have collaborated on a supercomputer for one of the world’s leading blackhole research teams.

The Flatiron Institute, located in New York City, is using high-performance computing (HPC) clusters provided by the two companies to support AI-powered research in astrophysics, quantum physics and computational mathematics. To give you a flavour of the institute’s pedigree, it recently helped prove Einstein’s theory of general relativity by discovering that black holes ‘ring’ like a bell.

“Cosmological simulations like galaxy formation and black hole creation require hundreds of thousands of cores connected to each other to run. Science should dominate our researchers’ time, not computation,” said Dr. Ian Fisk, Scientific Computing Core co-director at the Flatiron Institute.

The institute’s HPC cluster is powered by 17,000 Intel compute cores in Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 servers and runs HPC and AI workloads, allowing researchers to analyse complex datasets and simulate sophisticated physical processes.

The datasets analysed range from the petabyte-scale, such as giant genomic sequencing files, to 100,000 small files in a single directory. Flatiron said Intel and Lenovo’s joint solution enables them to complete workload-intensive research projects that were previously considered too impractical to attempt.

The cost of full genome sequencing has become more affordable as HPC has become more accessible. In the past, scientists could only previously sequence about 2 percent of genomic data. Nowadays, they can look at the entire genomic sequence of thousands of families at once.

Such progress is the key to more effective discovery of genes that cause disease or the development of precision medicine, the institute said.

“With our Lenovo HPC supercomputer cluster, we have four or five times more memory than a typical HPC farm,” Fisk said, referring to the additional RAM available with each node.”

“Reading a 200 GB genomic sequencing file for a biology project or making 11,000 connections to other nodes for an astrophysics project requires a lot of memory. Now, when a researcher comes along with an interesting challenge that their equipment doesn’t support, we can achieve that,” he added.

Fisk also described Intel’s systems as “a workhorse” and said its improved thermals allow the institute’s compute-intensive workloads to operate in a confined space.

“Breakthrough research, like the amazing work being done at the Flatiron Institute, requires breakthrough technology,” said Trish Damkroger, vice president and general manager of the Extreme Computing Organization at Intel.

“Through our close partnership with Lenovo, we are able to deliver these leading technologies, including the only CPU with both AI and HPC acceleration built in, to help Flatiron work to solve some of the world’s most complex issues with faster time to insights,” he added.

Written by Wed 9 Oct 2019


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