Brazil University Gets LatAm’s Largest Shared-Memory Supercomputer

Altix 4700 made by SGI Brazil's Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC) recently purchased a high-performance computer and storage system from California-based SGI in order to speed cutting-edge scientific research and also hoping this move would draw top-tier professors and researchers to the school, in the Greater São Paulo.

The SGI Altix is the very first HPC (High Performance Computing) system that the brand new university has acquired for their Supercomputing Center, and will be used to run data intensive and computationally intensive applications in nanoscience, materials science, engineering, chemistry and physics.

Founded in 2005 and opening its doors one year ago, UFABC is located in the São Paulo industrial belt and is focused on basic sciences and technology. The university is divided into three Centers: the Center for Natural Sciences, the Engineering Center, and the Mathematics and Computational Sciences Center.

All three sectors will access the compute power of the SGI Altix 4700 system, which comes with 272 gigabytes of RAM, backed by 30 terabytes of storage.

"We have some applications, mainly for materials science and chemistry, that perform better on computers that have a very fast interconnect, and SGI is one of the best, if not the best, in the world, with their NUMAlink interconnect," said Gustavo Dalpian, Assistant Professor, Center for Natural Sciences, UFABC.

"SGI can give us the speed we needed. Also, the ability of using all the memory in the Altix in a single process, running very large applications that demand a lot of memory, was another important part of our choice. We have around 100 openings for new professors this year, and we expect that the Altix will bring us a lot of good researchers and good professors because we now have the computer support that they need to develop their research at UFABC."

Dalpian will be teaching one of the first six graduate courses that begin in the fall and expects to use the new computer extensively to develop several projects, particularly focusing on understanding the nature of nanomaterials, nanocrystals and quantum dots.

The goal of one line of research is to develop new materials with specific, desired properties by doing massive amounts of calculations.

For example, Dalpian works mainly with semiconductors, and there is much interest in trying to manipulate nanocrystals based on semiconductors. Dalpian and his students will try to meet one of the biggest challenges, which is trying to improve the dopability of these nanocrystals.

UFABC purchased an SGI Altix 4700 system with 272GB RAM and 68 Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 processors (for a total of 136 processor cores) running Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 plus 30TB combined storage on an SGI InfiniteStorage 350 system and SGI InfiniteStorage 120 system.

The SGI Altix system is remotely accessible, allowing researchers easy access from anywhere, and opening the door to other researchers in Brazil and Latin America for the sharing of information or special projects.

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