Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

BYU Flashes Its Blades

A large U.S. university has rolled out a massive cluster of blade servers to ease the pressure on systems and storage in its primary research center.

Quinn Snell, director of the Fulton supercomputing lab at Brigham Young University, told Byte and Switch that three SGI Origin machines and a 128-node cluster of IBM servers were simply being overwhelmed” by the volume of work the university was doing. “We had a major backlog on the other machines,” he admits. “There were too many jobs.”

The new supercomputer, named Mary Lou after the donor who paid for it, uses 630 Dell PowerEdge 1855 servers in four separate clusters. The system sports a total of 630 nodes and 1,260 Intel Xeon processors. Boasting a peak performance of nine Teraflops, Mary Lou is split across four separate locations on BYU’s campus in Provo, Utah. It came into service earlier this year.

Though Snell is pleased with the performance of his SGI and IBM machines, he was keen to try out the blade servers. “We had a very tight power and heat budget -- blades consolidate power and reduce heat,” he explains. This, he adds, made it “quite advantageous” to go with blades.

Users are currently sending out mixed messages about the value of blade servers. On the one hand, some IT managers see the technology as “costly and immature,” whereas others are wowed by the ability to fit a large number of servers into a tight space. (See Are Blades Cutting It?, Study Highlights Blade Disappointment, and Blades for Buffalo .)

  • 1