Mississippi State climbs supercomputing ranks

Contact: Jim Laird

Mississippi State's newest Cray supercomputer, called "Shadow," is the 11th fastest academic system in the United States.
Mississippi State's newest Cray supercomputer, called "Shadow," is the 11th fastest academic system in the United States.

STARKVILLE, Miss.--The state's premier research university is again ranked as a leading academic supercomputing site, according to an international organization dedicated to cataloging the world's most powerful computer systems.

Named "Shadow," Mississippi State's newest Cray supercomputer is the 11th fastest academic system in the United States with an overall ranking of No. 185 on TOP500.org's latest Top500 Supercomputer Site list.

"Dating back to 1996, MSU has had a computer system on 19 of the last 37 Top500 lists," said Trey Breckenridge, director of high performance computing at the land-grant institution.

"We have a long-standing commitment to providing powerful, technologically-advanced resources for our researchers," he said.

Located at MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory, Shadow is the primary high-performance computing asset for shared research at the university, and supports the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, Center for Computational Sciences, Geosystems Research Institute, Center for Battlefield Innovations, Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology and Distributed Analytics and Security Institute, as well as the MSU-led Northern Gulf Institute.

The Cray system runs a broad set of applications, including fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, materials modeling, astrophysics, molecular modeling, transportation modeling and planning, weather and ocean modeling, geographic information systems, genomics and bioinformatics.

Shadow is 10 times faster than the university's previous fastest system, but consumes far less energy, Breckenridge said.

The system features an innovative, liquid-cooled design that uses warm water heat exchangers instead of chillers to directly cool the computer's processors and memory, allowing for a more efficient removal of system heat, he explained.

"The water used to cool the system is the temperature of the outside air, up to 104 degrees, with almost no additional air conditioning required," Breckenridge said.

There are four other systems in Mississippi on the new Top500 list. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg placed systems at No. 31 and No. 381, while two U.S. Navy systems at Stennis Space Center were at No. 125 and No. 126.

"The supercomputing power we have in Mississippi is becoming more important as the state and region develop an economy where research and technology fuels economic development and job growth," Breckenridge said.

"The economic impact of Shadow and our other resources is significant now, and we expect that to grow in the coming years," he added.

Of note, Shadow was also on the June 2014 Green500 list at No. 16, making it the 16th most energy efficient supercomputer in the world, and the highest ranking system on the list utilizing Intel Xeon Phi co-processors, Breckenridge said.

The complete Top 500 Supercomputer Site list may be viewed at www.top500.org.

For more about MSU's HPC2, visit www.hpc.msstate.edu.

For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.

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