Supercomputer launched to honor university’s 200th anniversary

Indiana University’s supercomputer, Big Red 200, launched for the university's bicentennial, has greater than 6 quadrillion floating-point operations per second, or petaFLOPS.

By Ceci Jones February 20, 2020

With artificial intelligence capabilities and a peak performance rate of more than 6 petaFLOPS, Indiana University’s supercomputer, Big Red 200, solidifies its standing as a high-performance computing powerhouse.

Big Red 200 operates at a peak rate more than six times faster than its predecessor (Big Red II), with greater than 6 quadrillion—or six thousand trillion—floating-point operations per second, or petaFLOPS. Named Big Red 200 in honor of the IU Bicentennial celebration, the new system is more than 300 times faster than the original Big Red supercomputer installed 15 years ago. IU dedicated Big Red 200 as part of IU’s Bicentennial event, “A Day of Commemoration: IU’s 200th Anniversary.”

“Big Red 200 is giant leap forward in supercomputing capacity to support IU researchers and students,” said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for IT and chief information officer (CIO). “As one of Cray’s newest and most sophisticated systems, it will support large-scale research in medicine, climate modeling, physics, and hundreds of academic disciplines. The combination of the AMD Rome CPUs and the next-generation NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs are well-matched to the needs of IU researchers for simulation, AI, and many forms of research.”

How fast is Big Red 200? It would take everyone in the state of Indiana more than 28 years— performing one calculation per second 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—to perform the same number of calculations that Big Red 200 can do in just one second.

IU partnered with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NVIDIA to build Big Red 200. The new system is the first of HPE’s next-generation Cray Shasta supercomputers to be deployed anywhere in the world and is specifically crafted for IU’s needs. Upgrades to the IU Data Center will allow Big Red 200 to leverage warm water cooling, according to ASHRAE W3 temperatures.

Big Red 200 contains nearly 100,000 cores and leverages HPE’s Cray Slingshot interconnect technology. The system will also feature 256 NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs to be added in the fall. When that happens, IU’s Big Red 200 will be architecturally similar to the pre-exascale Perlmutter system in development for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). (NERSC is the primary scientific computing facility for the Office of Science in the U.S. Department of Energy.)

“NVIDIA is honored to be a part of the investment Indiana University has chosen to make in its students and faculty,” said Cheryl Martin, director of higher education at NVIDIA. “With the Big Red 200 reveal, IU becomes one of the preeminent universities providing the required platform for accelerating today’s HPC and AI research.”

Indiana University (IU)

Indiana University

– Edited by CFE Media. See more Control Engineering industrial PC stories.

Author Bio: Indiana University