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January 1993

Exemplar X-Class Supercomputer Powers Up at Caltech

The computing laboratories at CRPC sites across the country form one of the most advanced collections of high-performance parallel systems in the world. This collection has been expanded throughout 1997 to include a variety of new systems that are serving to enhance existing projects and support new directions in CRPC research. In a June 9 dedication ceremony at Caltech, the university's Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Supercomputing Project unveiled a major supercomputer acquisition, Hewlett Packard's powerful Exemplar X-Class scalable server.

Purchased with funding from the NSF and NASA, the Exemplar X-Class will be used for computationally intensive projects that require teraflops, terabytes of disk space, and multi-megabytes per second transfer rates, such as NSF Grand Challenge research applications in areas like chemistry, geophysics, and environmental and planetary sciences. Although not purchased with CRPC funds, the system will be used for CRPC projects by virtue of the center's partial support of CACR operational expenses. The larger NSF academic research community will also have access to the system through the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) grant.

Left to right: CRPC External Advisory Committee member Steve Wallach of Centerpoint Ventures (formerly of Hewlett Packard), and CRPC Facilities Director Paul Messina of Caltech.
The Exemplar is a Convex SPP2000 system featuring the HP PA-8000 processor and Cache-Coherent Non-Uniform Access (CC-NUMA) global memory. The basic building blocks of SPP2000 architecture are hypernodes, with up to 16 processors physically sharing memory. Multiple hypernodes are connected with a variant of the Scalable Coherent Interconnect (SCI) technology to form systems of up to 512 processors and 512 gigabytes (GB) of directly accessible memory. The Caltech machine currently provides 184 gigaflops sharing 64 GB of memory and 1 terabyte of disk, and will eventually grow from 128 to 256 processors.

The Hewlett Packard Exemplar X-Class supercomputer was dedicated and demonstrated at a June 9 ceremony at Caltech. Attending were (Clockwise from lower left) Lee Holcomb, NASA; Wayne Pfeiffer, San Diego Supercomputing Center; Joe Bredekamp, NASA; Tom Prince, Caltech; Bob Borchers, NSF; Paul Messina, Caltech; Thomas Everhart, Caltech; Steve Wallach, Centerpoint Ventures (formerly of Hewlett Packard) ; Carl Kukkonen, JPL; Larry Dumas, JPL; Steve Koonin, Caltech

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