By John Russell
June 14, 2005 | The Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), a constituent laboratory of India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, has chosen a 4-teraFLOPS Hewlett-Packard supercomputer running the Linux operating system to advance its life science computational biology research.
HP says IGIB’s supercomputer will be the most powerful HP supercomputer deployed in Asia and will vault IGIB, based in New Delhi, into the ranks of global research institutions such as Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Sandia National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory that have implemented ultra-scalable, multi-teraFLOPS HP supercomputing systems.
This was a good win for HP, given IBM’s growing profile in life science supercomputing in recent years. In Asia, HP technology has played a key role in life science research facilities, such as the Bioinformatics Institute in Singapore. IGIB chose HP following the formal RFP process required by the Indian government. On the shortlist were Sun Microsystems, HP, and IBM. An IGIB spokesperson says the competitive price-performance and suitability to IGIB’s computing requirements were deciding factors.
“HP’s Cluster Platform provides a scalable architecture that allows us to complete large, complex simulation experiments such as molecular interactions and dynamics, virtual drug screening, protein folding, and so forth much more quickly,” says Samir Brahmachari, director, IGIB. “We hope [the new supercomputer] will ultimately [help] in the discovery of new drug targets and predictive medicine for complex disorders with minimum side effects.”
IGIB’s life science research encompasses functional genomics, medical and environmental genomics, and genome resources and services. The HP XC system will be used to enhance software already developed at IGIB, such as PLHOST, which is used to identify potential drug targets.
The supercomputer, which is expected to deliver 4 teraFLOPS, is a 288-node Cluster Platform 3000 based on ProLiant servers with Intel Xeon processors and running Linux with XC system software. A high-speed InfiniBand 10-gigabit-per-second cluster interconnect is used, and XC system software provides cluster management capability. The new system is being built in the HP Singapore manufacturing facility, with installation at IGIB planned for June and operations beginning in July.
The IGIB center will also have a 24-node high-performance HP ProLiant cluster running Linux and a HP Integrity Superdome server. Twelve terabytes of HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array 5000 storage and a StorageWorks MSL6060 tape library support the systems.
The HP Cluster Platform and the XC system software are part of HP’s Unified Cluster Portfolio, announced in November 2004, in part designed to help scientists manage and visualize the large volumes of data created by computational biology. The Unified Cluster Portfolio provides a common implementation across multiple operating systems (HP-UX, Microsoft Windows, and Linux) and servers based on industry-standard processors (Intel Xeon, Intel Itanium, and AMD Opteron).
IGIB is the only Indian national laboratory with a focus on genomics and integrative biology. It is also an important Indian player in several public-private partnership projects to promote interaction between medical institutes and researchers and to foster cooperation with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to commercialize technology.