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University Uses SGI Altix

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- To help Brazil maintain its recently achieved goal of oil self-sufficiency, the Numerical Offshore Tank-TPN laboratory at the State University of Sao Paulo (USP) selected shared memory, high-performance compute and scalable SGI(R) InfiniteStorage systems from SGI (NASDAQ:SGIC) to employ, and further develop, an exciting new computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code. The laboratory's main focus is to develop and analyze floating offshore production systems for deep-water oil and gas production managed by Petrobras, Brazil's national oil and gas company. In the six months the USP lab has been using the SGI(R) Altix(R) system, purchased with funding from the Brazilian government and Petrobras, researchers report the code scales extremely well and runs up to 100 times faster on the SGI Altix system than on their home-grown cluster environment.

"We chose SGI Altix, first, because Altix is simply the best machine to run our codes," said Antonio Augusto Russo, System Engineer, Numerical Offshore Tank-TPN Lab, University of Sao Paulo. "On the SGI 16-processor machine, our codes run at least a hundred times faster than when we used the old cluster.
We need very large amounts of memory to run our codes, and they scale very well on the Altix because of the shared memory and the NUMAflex architecture
-- there's a lot of communication. The second reason we selected Altix is the ability to use OpenMP, which helped a lot with code development; it was much faster than it would have been if we used MPI. Also, SGI is the most reliable storage, by far, that we have. We even use it to hold our financial data -- invoices, contracts and documents related directly to our research
-- as well as for analysis and development."

The CFD code, introduced at Supercomputing 2006 in Tampa by University of Tokyo researchers, is called Moving Particle Semi-explicit (MPS), a Linux(R) based numerical technique to solve hydrodynamics problems, in particular sloshing water, and fluid-solid interactions. The powerful processing and memory SGI(R) NUMAflex(R) architecture of SGI Altix systems was absolutely key to the university's purchase. The SGI Altix is also being used to develop the lab's main code, known in Portuguese as TPN, translated as "Numerical Offshore Tank." TPN is a numerical simulator of offshore structures, such as floating oil production rigs. MPS is a complementary code to TPN at present, but through development on the SGI Altix system, the Lab foresees MPS becoming their main research tool in the near future.

"The Numerical Offshore Tank-TPN Lab's use of SGI technology is yet another example of SGI's ability to deliver solutions for the most demanding compute and data-intensive workflows," said Michael Brown, sciences segment manager, SGI. "The Altix system's extreme scalability, flexibility, and reliability, coupled with its open architecture, provide the best combination of compute, special purpose processing, memory and I/O elements, to match the diverse needs of the Lab's environment."

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