Livermore teams on Linux project

The Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced plans this week to collaborate with Linux NetworX Inc. and SGI Federal Inc. to help advance the parallel global file system, an open-source projecton Linux clustering.

Linux clustering is a method of linking multiple computers together to forma unified, powerful system. By taking advantage of standard computer components, Linux clusters can match the performance of supercomputers for a fraction of the cost.

The open-source collaboration will attempt to build three Linux computing systems with a total of 472 Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processors for the National Nuclear Security Administration's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative(ASCI) computing element. The largest of the three systems will have 252 Pentium 4 processors.

With a theoretical peak performance of 857 gigaflops per second, it will be one the fastest Linux clusters ever built, according to SGI.

Mark Seager, Livermore's assistant department head for terascale systems, said Linux NetworX's "clustering expertise and management tools" combined with SGI Federal's "project management background and support infrastructure" created a solution to meet the laboratory's requirements.

"On Linux, there isn't really a strong clustered file system," said Wayne Vieira, senior systems engineer at SGI. "We're leveraging an existing open-source solution so they will be able to transport to other platforms as need be."

"As far as the user is concerned, if they're running a large, parallel task, one large file system will be equally visible from any of the cluster nodes," he said.

Beginning in October, Linux NetworX and SGI Federal — which teamed on the contract valued at slightly more than $2 million — will dedicate resources to the effort, working with Livermore to evaluate options, including performing acceptance testing on the system, said Kathi Cloutier, SGI's account manager for the laboratory.

SGI will have a "dedicated engineer on site for one year" at the lab toassist in advancing the project, Cloutier said.

Linux NetworX, has several government and higher education clients, including the National Security Agency and numerous national laboratories. SGI Federal, a division of Silicon Graphics Inc., also has many public-sector customers, including NASA and the Navy.

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