Purdue supercomputer to be installed in just one day

Purdue plans to assemble what will be the world's 40th ranked supercomputer in just one day, 5 May to be exact.

I worry, not that they won't make their deadline, but that, in the rush, one of the 200 volunteer assemblers will become inextricably entangled in the interconnects in such a way that for Purdue to meet its deadline, he or she will have to spend eternity (or at least the night) inside the supercomputer.

Don't laugh. It happened to Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel. Except Mike was trying to dig the cellar of Popperville's new town hall in just one day, not assemble a supercomputer. If you're not familiar with the story, Mike and Maryanne (the steam shovel) won't get paid unless he digs the cellar in one day, a feat that would take 100 men a week to do. They dig it in such a rush, they forget to leave a way out for Maryanne. The solution is to make Maryanne the town hall's furnace and Mike the town hall's janitor. So they just build the town hall right over the pair of them. Mike gets an easy job and Maryanne keeps puffing steam. All's well.

Maybe the interconnect-entangled student could get a tech-support gig.

From the press release:

May 1, 2008

Purdue to install Big Tenâ''s biggest campus computer in just a day

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The largest supercomputer on a Big Ten campus will be installed at Purdue in a single-day, electronic "barn-raising.â''

More than 200 employees will gather May 5 to help build the massive machine, which will be about the size of a semitrailer when installed. It will be the largest Big Ten supercomputer that is not part of a national center.

Purdueâ''s computer is being built in a single day to keep the university's science and engineering researchers from facing a lengthy downtime, says Gerry McCartney, vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

"Our staff thought we were insane when we challenged them to build such a big computer in a single day," McCartney says. "But now thereâ''s real excitement to be a part of this."

To generate interest on campus, the organizers created a spoof movie trailer called â''Installation Day,â'' which is a take off of the movie â''Independence Day.â'' The video can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVzThRN4QJI

Supercomputers are ranked by their performance in running a complex benchmarking system. The results of the tests are published twice each year at http://www.top500.org. Purdueâ''s new supercomputer would rank in the top 40 of the current Top 500 list, which was published in Nov. 2007.

Advertisement

Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.

Advertisement