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The Space Simulator Cluster

The Space Simulator is a 294-processor Beowulf cluster. It is based on the Shuttle XPC SS51G mini chassis, which uses a heat pipe instead of a CPU fan. The small size of the XPC cases allowed us to fit the cluster in about half the space of the previous 144-processor Avalon cluster. Each node consists of a 2.53 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1 Gb of 333 MHz DDR SDRAM, an 80 Gbyte Maxtor hard drive, and a 3Com 3C996B-T gigabit ethernet card. The cost of an individual node was less than $1000. The network switch is composed of a Foundry FastIron 1500 switch trunked to another FastIron 800 switch, which provides a total of 304 Gigabit Ethernet ports using the 16-port JetCore modules.

The system was delivered in late September, 2002. It achieved Linpack performance of 665.1 Gflops on 288 processors in October 2002, making it the 85th fastest computer in the world according to the TOP500 list.

In April 2003, the Linpack benchmarks were run again on 288 processors. Instead of MPICH 1.2.4, we used LAM 6.5.9 as the MPI implementation. In addition, the somewhat newer ATLAS 3.5.0 distribution was used for the level 3 BLAS, and the Intel 7.1 compiler suite was used to compile HPL (while gcc was used for ATLAS). This improved Linpack performance to 757.1 Gflop/s, which resulted in the cluster moving to the 88th fastest computer in the world according to the 21st TOP500 list of June 2003.

The Space Simulator Cluster is dedicated to performing computational astrophysics simulations in the Theoretical Astrophysics group (T-6) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is a follow-on to the Loki and Avalon clusters.


[1] M. S. Warren, C. L. Fryer and M.  P. Goda. The Space Simulator. In ClusterWorld Conference and Expo, San Jose, 2003. (PDF)

[2] M. S. Warren, C. L. Fryer and M.  P. Goda. The Space Simulator: Modeling the Universe from Supernovae to Cosmology. In Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE SC2003 Conference, ACM Press, 2003. (PDF)

Michael S. Warren,

Chris Fryer,

M. Patrick Goda,

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Last modified: October 23, 2003