Cornell joins forces with Dell, Intel and Microsoft to move high-performance computing to Main Street
By Bill Steele
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell Theory Center (CTC) has announced an agreement with Dell, Intel and Microsoft that secures $60 million worth of resources to provide a suite of Windows-based, high-performance computing solutions and services to business, government and academic clients. CTC operates the world's largest Windows/Intel/Dell computing complex.
CTC is a pioneer in the use of "clusters" of computers operating in parallel to achieve supercomputer speeds. The latest clusters at Cornell consist of Dell PowerEdge 7150 and 2650 servers with Intel Xeon processors and running the Microsoft Windows operating system. The grant will greatly expand CTC's outreach efforts to help the private sector apply this technology to integrate intensive computer simulation and analysis tools into the workplace.
New York Gov. George E. Pataki called the investment by Dell, Intel and Microsoft in CTC "a true vote of confidence in the intellectual power of one of our state's finest academic institutions. Industry, university and government collaboration is critical to economic success in our state and throughout the nation, especially in the fast-paced world of information technology. This project is a prime example of how expertise at New York state's top-flight universities can help industry solve complex problems that will benefit all sectors, public and private."
Cornell President Hunter Rawlings noted that Microsoft's latest contribution to CTC places Cornell at the top of Microsoft-funded universities. "This partnership is an excellent example of applying university expertise to problems in the private sector," he said. "We look forward to a strong collaboration with Microsoft, Intel and Dell that will benefit our research, education and outreach mission."
The agreement underscores the donating companies' commitment to cost-effective industry-standard technology for high-performance computing as a viable alternative to supercomputers. The grant will more than double the existing complex of over 900 processors at CTC. These facilities will be available to the Cornell research community as well as for development of business applications.
"We continue to do exciting things with these computers and to make them available to the research community. Now we can showcase our successes for the broader high-performance computing community, with a focus on the private sector as well as other academic and government users," explained Thomas F. Coleman, CTC director and Cornell computer scientist. "The big idea is to bring this resource to the larger business community."
A new Theory Center unit, CTC High-Performance Solutions, will work with businesses and other users, offering consulting services and training on how to rewrite software to take advantage of parallel computing, .NET Web services, and other Windows-based technologies.
"Establishment of CTC High-Performance Solutions comes at a time when all sectors of the economy face increasing competition, pressure on margins and the need to demonstrate strong returns on investment," Coleman said. "With our expanded alliance and combined strengths, we can show companies, government agencies, and academic institutions how to expand their computing environment, while reducing their overall information technology budget."
A cluster is being established at CTC-Manhattan, located in the Wall Street area, which also houses CTC's financial analytics research group. It will serve as a technology showcase for midrange systems and proof-of-concept applications, as well as a laboratory setting for pilot projects.The Manhattan activities are backed by ongoing research and development in Ithaca.
In addition, CTC has named Wall Street business professional Roger Lang to the new position of director of business development at CTC-Manhattan.
CTC High-Performance Solutions services will include IC-UNIX to Windows code porting and parallelization, systems planning and integration, systems and applications training, benchmarking, .NET application development, consulting, executive and technical briefings and support of a TechExchange consortium.
According to David Lifka, CTC chief technical officer, "The industry standard HPC model based on Dell hardware, Intel processors and Microsoft software has provided CTC's users with the performance, reliability and security they require at a total cost of ownership 70 percent less than CTC's previous proprietary supercomputer."
In addition to working with industry clients, CTC supports a wide spectrum of computational science research at Cornell, including genomics, fracture mechanics, protein folding, and computational finance studies.
EDITORS: Executives from Cornell Theory Center, Dell, Intel, and Microsoft will host a teleconference to discuss details of this announcement and answer questions at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) on Monday, Aug. 5. Press and analysts may join the teleconference by dialing (800) 967-7140 or (719) 457-2629.