New test system, named Laramie, installed at NWSC

By Marijke Unger
08/05/2016 - 11:30am

A new SGI ICE XA test system has been successfully delivered and installed at the NWSC. Named Laramie, the High Performance Computing (HPC) test system, along with a test Parallel File System (PFS) named Picnic-2, will be used to test upgrades to the production systems. They contain all the same hardware, software and functionality as the production systems, but scaled down to an appropriate configuration. These test systems are also used for researching how new and innovative hardware and software technologies can be incorporated into the workflow.

Laramie and Picnic-2 are both online, and all the Picnic-2 file systems have been mounted and are available from Laramie. During the first weeks of August, the systems will be used for Hardware/CRU training for the Cheyenne Operations Group (COG), followed by a five-day system administration workshop, on August 8-12, and subsequently by a weeklong HPC optimization workshop. On August 15, the system will be turned over to the consulting group, which will set up the user environment using Picnic-2 file systems. Once those are in place, early users will be invited to start using Laramie and Picnic-2 in preparation for Cheyenne and Glade-2.

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Staff from NCAR and SGI assemble the new test system, named Laramie, on the main computer room floor at the NWSC (Photo by David Manion, SGI).


The system technical specifications are as follows:

  • Laramie consists of 72 nodes in a single E-rack using dual-node compute blades
  • Cheyenne will have 144 nodes in an E-rack or 288 nodes in an E-Cell using quad-node compute blades
  • The reduced heat dissipation of the air-cooled ICE XA requires the use of less dense dual-node compute blades
  • Laramie uses 120W 18-core processors, @ 2.1 GHz (Cheyenne has 145W 18-core processors @ 2.3 GHz)
  • Laramie compute nodes have a 64 GB per node memory
  • Laramie high speed interconnect is the same enhanced hypercube (EHC) as is used in Cheyenne, but reduced to a 3D size due to the lower node count
  • Picnic-2 consists of a single storage system containing 250 TB of useable space and 2 GPFS file system servers. Picnic-2 is fully integrated with the picnic-1 resources providing three file systems for the test environment

Once Cheyenne is installed and in production, both Laramie and Picnic-2 will be used as a test and research resources for system, I/O,  and user applications.