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This chapter is from the book

Envisioning the Utilization of Itanium's Power

Itanium processing power has already entered the market and is in its second generation (Itanium 2 processor) as you read this book. Yet its full impact will be some time in coming as successive processor iterations are released with better performance, and more independent software vendors port their applications to take advantage of Intel's Itanium processor. The impact from the architecture's ability to handle high volumes of data and computations faster and more reliably will be better workstations and servers, at lower cost to customers.

The following are a couple of examples of early users of the Itanium processors. These are early adopters of new technology who have big plans for their Itanium systems, as you will see by reading the case studies.

Infrastructure Savings Through the PNNL Supercomputer

With the introduction of Itanium-based servers and workstations, the pace of scientific discovery has picked up tremendously. For example, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy, partnering with Hewlett-Packard, is working on a project that will result in one of the world's most powerful Linux-based supercomputers by mid-2003.

This super computer, comprised of servers using the Itanium 2, will be used to study complex chemical problems that form the basis for new discoveries in areas such as life sciences, subsurface transport, material design, atmospheric chemistry and combustion. In addition, they will apply the supercomputer to study geochemistry and biochemistry; radioactive and chemical waste detection, storage and management; systems biology; genomics; proteomics; materials science; fundamental studies in chemistry and computer science; and catalysis.

Consisting of 1,438 Itanium-2 processors, the new HP supercomputer will have an expected total peak performance of more than 9.2 teraflops—roughly 8,300 times faster than a current personal computer. Calculations that currently take a month to complete could be done in one day on the new system.

"As we try to use computational results to replace difficult and expensive experiments, increased computational power is essential," said David Dixon, associate director of theory, modeling, and simulation at William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a DOE scientific user facility at PNNL where the supercomputer is being installed. "The advanced architecture of the HP supercomputer provides that power, which will permit us to attain close to peak performance on our key computational chemistry problems."

What makes the key difference in the speed of discoveries is the quantum leap forward in mathematical modeling made possible by the Itanium architecture. Instead of having to build infrastructure to handle tests, store material, and dispose of hazardous waste, the measurements or interactions can be modeled quickly and accurately on a computer that can handle the additional complexity. By removing the need to handle potentially volatile chemical or nuclear materials, the work done by the researchers has become much easier and safer.

Academic and Industrial Design at the University of Stuttgart

The High-Performance Computing Center at the University of Stuttgart is one of the four largest computer centers in Germany. The university utilizes a vector supercomputer, visual computer, and cluster-structured distributed computer. The center is set up with a special arrangement in which it provides computing resources for both the university and for industrial applications.

The hardware used is an Express5800/1160Xa, capable of loading 16 Intel Itanium processors. Applications include impact simulation required for the safety design of automobile companies in Germany, and computational flow analysis simulation required for the air conditioner design. The High-Performance Computing Center also provides tools and expertise for science and technology computing.

By utilizing the 64-bit addressing and 64GB large main memory capacity that the Itanium-based systems can handle, large-scale end processing can be performed. The computing time was reduced to a tenth of the time required by the previous system. Given the Itanium's advantage in handling these jobs, the fundamental calculation code can be run up to 1.5 times faster than the previous system.

These are just a few of the early examples of how the power of new Itanium systems is being deployed to improve computing on a grand scale. Several others can be found in Appendix B.

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