Published on 02-Oct-2012
"We like that the system design of iDataPlex is optimized for high-performance computing, with lower power consumption, maximum memory size and dual processor support." - Sornthep Vannarat, NSTDA team leader, National Electronics and Computer Technology Center
Technical Computing, Connectivity and Integration, Energy Efficiency, General Parallel File System (GPFS), High Availability
NECTEC is a government research center that develops technology solutions for Thailand’s government and social sectors, established as part of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Ministry of Science and Technology. NECTEC’s primary mission is to help strengthen the sustainability of Thai industries and the sufficiency of Thai society through collaborative research and development for electronics and computer technologies.
Thailand’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) needed a solution to support diverse scientific research while falling within its budget and power-efficiency requirements.
NECTEC implemented a solution with 30 IBM® System x® iDataPlex® dx360 class servers with intelligent Intel® Xeon® processors, IBM System Storage® DS3000 and IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™).
The IBM solution provided high performance for diverse and demanding scientific research and development, seamless integration with existing clusters, and energy efficiency, optimized management and high availability.
NECTEC is a government research center that develops technology solutions for Thailand’s government and social sectors, established as part of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Ministry of Science and Technology. NECTEC’s primary mission is to help strengthen the sustainability of Thai industries and the sufficiency of Thai society through collaborative research and development for electronics and computer technologies. Some examples of NECTEC’s projects include producing industrial-automation technology, assistive technology for the disabled and elderly, and sensor network and computer modeling for environmental management.
Recently, NECTEC has become involved in an ambitious project—the National e-Science Infrastructure Consortium—to help develop infrastructure for HPC resources to support scientific and engineering research. The consortium, initiated by NSTDA, Chulalongkorn University, Suranaree University of Technology, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, and, Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, aims to build sustainable computing infrastructure for scientific research. Currently, there are five main focus areas: high energy particle physics; climate change; environment, water and energy management; computer science and engineering; and computational science and engineering. The members of the consortium implement their HPC systems, which are shared among the consortium members. As a key contributor to this collaborative effort, NECTEC needed a solution with scalable, powerful HPC capabilities and flexible storage.
Defining the needs for diverse, demanding research applications
Today’s HPC implementations require immense amounts of computing power and resources and can range widely in application. Posed with the challenge of providing an HPC solution for not only one, but several different types of applications, NECTEC had to consider many requirements. Taking part in the collective effort of the National e-Science Infrastructure Consortium, NECTEC, like other consortium members, are responsible for contributing and managing its own computing resources, which has required careful investment planning.
According to Sornthep Vannarat, leader of the NSTDA team, “We try to build a computing resource that gives the most computing power for our budget. At the same time, we have to support a broad range of scientific applications from computational fluid dynamics to drug design to high-energy physics. The computing resource must also be reliable and easy to manage.”
In addition to these flexible compute requirements and budget limitations, the NSTDA team strived to achieve energy efficiency. Regarding file system requirements, the team needed a parallel file system to support their research in high-energy physics, which involves a very large dataset. “We wanted our system to have the highest performance for parallel applications, so we asked for a system with fast interconnection, a lot of cores and high memory capacity,” states Vannarat.
Completing an extensive checklist
Working to address a sizable list of requirements for performance, scalability, flexibility, power-efficiency and budget, NECTEC began evaluating vendors and solutions through the standard government procurement process. One solution proposed by IBM proved to be successful in meeting these stringent requirements, providing NECTEC with the necessary means to move forward with its project.
Designed to handle the high-performance requirements of advanced research, IBM System x iDataPlex dx360 class servers were selected as key components of the solution. Thirty servers were implemented, each with dual, six-core Intel Xeon processors and 48 GB memory. To meet the immense storage requirements demanded by its research, NECTEC implemented the IBM System Storage DS3000 with 400 TB of raw space for data. Half of this space is dedicated to the high-energy physics dataset, while the rest is reserved for weather research data, computational science and engineering applications, and for storing virtual machine images. For high-bandwidth and low-latency connectivity, NECTEC chose Mellanox InfiniBand switches to complement the iDataPlex servers. And to meet its requirements for a parallel file system, NECTEC implemented IBM GPFS.
Vannarat says, “We like that the system design of iDataPlex is optimized for high-performance computing, with lower power consumption, maximum memory size and dual-processor support. We also like the expandability to support high-performance interconnection and general processor unit (GPU) computing.”
Achieving the high levels of performance required by scientific computing
Deploying its IBM solution as a Linux cluster, NECTEC quickly recognized several key strengths in its scientific computing environment. NECTEC was able to set up most of its front-end node and compute nodes as virtual machines for optimal management and high availability. The GPFS helped to provide fast access to the virtual machine images, as well.
Having worked previously with IBM to procure cluster computers, NECTEC continued to see the benefit of this business relationship. Regarding his experience with IBM support, Vannarat comments, “I have been impressed with IBM active support providing my team with technological advice, as well as good service. We are also happy that IBM is involved in high-performance computing and support for scientific research communities in Thailand.”
Continued computing success with IBM
In addition to recognizing immediate benefits from the IBM solution, Vannarat anticipates having seamless expandability to support high-performance interconnection and GPU computing. He also expects to have application scalability from the high backplane bandwidth of its network switch. Regarding the new storage solution, Vannarat hopes to see continued IBM innovation in storage technology for flexible storage management, as well as innovation in providing optimal solutions for their overall IT requirements. “I believe IBM will continue to be a leader in IT solution providers, and will continue to support NECTEC’s initiatives,” says Vannarat.
The IBM solution has proven to excel at supporting a broad range of scientific applications with a combined goal of making a positive impact on Thailand’s communities. The combination of iDataPlex servers, System Storage DS3000 and GPFS integrates well with the demanding, diverse research environment of NECTEC and NSTDA. Leveraging more than 25 years of experience in technology development, and through collaboration with projects such as the National e-Science Infrastructure Consortium, NECTEC strives to enhance the scientific knowledge base of Thailand and provide continued social and economic benefits.
For more information
For more information about NECTEC, visit: nectec.or.th/en/
Products and services used
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 Produced in the United States of America September 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System Storage, GPFS, iDataPlex, and System x are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Actual available storage capacity may be reported for both uncompressed and compressed data and will vary and may be less than stated.