The University of Barcelona Gets a Computing Boost with GIGABYTE Servers
The Institute of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry at the University of Barcelona has increased the capacity of their on-campus data center by over 40% with a new cluster of GIGABYTE servers. Hundreds of researchers will benefit from the computing power of AMD EPYC™ processors. Administrators can easily manage the cluster with GIGABYTE Server Management (GSM), a proprietary multiple server remote management software platform provided for free by GIGABYTE.
The University of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain, is on top of the world. With more than 60,000 students and almost 600 years of history, it is one of the biggest and oldest universities in all of Spain. It is also home to 5,000 researchers working in over 200 research groups, which makes it a powerhouse of academic prowess, and one of the best research universities in Europe.
If the University of Barcelona wears the crown, then the Institute of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (Institut de Química Teòrica i Computacional; IQTC) is its crowning jewel. Specializing in various areas of theoretical and computational chemistry, the IQTC’s fields of research cover the development of computational methods and simulations, the application of said techniques to problems in materials science, as well as the study of chemical reactions and biological systems.
It should come as no surprise that so much brainpower is backed up by an impressive arsenal of computing power. The IQTC has its own data center, composed of multiple computing clusters built from high performance computing (HPC) systems. According to the IQTC’s HPC System Administrator Jordi Inglés, before the summer of 2020, the data center housed around 4,000 cores and 37 TB of RAM.
In 2017, the IQTC was honored with the María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence Award by the State Research Agency (Agencia Estatal de Investigación; AEI) of Spain. Established to reward and encourage the apex of scientific research and global competitiveness, the grant provided the IQTC with 500,000 euros in funding every year for four years. In July of 2020, the IQTC elected to spend a significant portion of the funding to massively expand their data center. They built an additional computing cluster, known as the IQTC09 Cluster, with 26 servers from GIGABYTE.
Opening Up New Fields of Scientific Research with GIGABYTE
The IQTC wanted to delve into new fields of study, including molecular dynamics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the design and creation of molecular structures in 3D, as well as VR-based applications that will allow researchers to carry out experiments in a virtual environment. Clean and sustainable green energy, nanomaterials and nanoelectronics, and biomedicine and soft matter are also areas of great interest to the IQTC.
For all the computing power already possessed by the data center, it was not ready to handle so many new tasks. The IQTC needed to add more processing power while staying within space and budget constraints. What’s more, the new cluster has to meet the computational demand of the scientific work done by researchers across multiple areas of study.
The IQTC approached Sistemas Informáticos Europeos (SIE), a Spanish company specializing in servers, workstations, and other network and communications systems. After many rounds of discussions, SIE boiled the client’s needs down to three key points: 1. Industry-leading computing power, as provided by AMD EPYC™ processors 2. Sufficient memory and storage capacities to handle versatile workloads 3. Fast, secure, easy remote management
SIE had exactly the right products for IQTC. They introduced the University of Barcelona to server solutions by GIGABYTE—specifically, the G292-Z42, a 2U 8-Node server from the G-Series of GPU Servers, and the R182-Z90, a 1U 4-bay server from the R-Series of Rack Servers.
Learn More: 《More information about GIGABYTE's GPU Server》 《More information about GIGABYTE's Rack Server》
SIE delivered product samples to let the client test the servers for themselves. Needless to say, the IQTC was impressed. They purchased a total of 26 GIGABYTE servers to build the IQTC09 Cluster. The servers run on dual 64-bit AMD EPYC™ 7542 processors, offering a combined might of 1,664 cores and 26 TB of RAM. Compared with what the data center had before, it was a 40% increase in core numbers, and a whopping 70% increase in memory.
Students and scientists all over the campus can now access computing power that matches their aspirations and ingenuity. The University of Barcelona has a leg up on the competition, and the State Research Agency can be sure their funding was spent on a wise investment. “Our client is very, very happy,” says a representative of SIE.
Industry-leading Computing Power Provided by AMD EPYC™ Processors
The G292-Z42 and R182-Z90 are able to meet the computational demand of the university’s groundbreaking research projects due in no small part to their dual AMD EPYC™ 7002 processors, which can house up to 64 cores and 128 threads in a single CPU. The AMD EPYC™ 7542 houses 32 cores in each processor, with a base frequency of 2.9 GHz. The processors support the latest PCIe Gen 4.0, which minimizes the latency between the CPU and peripheral devices, such as graphics cards, storage servers, and high speed network cards. 《Glossary: What is PCIe?》
In the case of the G292-Z42, as part of GIGABYTE’s G-Series of GPU Servers, it is designed to support an extremely dense configuration of GPU accelerators. The G292-Z42 can fit up to 8 double-slot GPGPU cards in a slim 2U chassis, making it an excellent choice for high density HPC applications and parallel computing. This makes it possible for the new cluster to overcome the IQTC’s space limitations, since more processing power can be achieved with a smaller footprint.《Glossary: What is Parallel Computing?》
The IQTC is thrilled to add AMD EPYC™ processors to their data center. They need powerful calculation capabilities for their academic endeavors, a lot of which cross into the realm of theoretical research. What’s more, as the university continues to flourish, computational demand will only increase. The data center’s computing power will be split between crunching numbers and supporting laboratory experiments. The brand new computing cluster, provided by GIGABYTE and SIE, will be instrumental in helping with the heavy lifting.
The G292-Z42 is a 2U 8-node GPU Server powered by AMD EPYC™ processors. It specializes in high density HPC applications and parallel computing. It is able to fit a lot of computing power into a very small footprint, making it an excellent choice for the IQTC’s ninth computing cluster.
Sufficient Memory and Storage Capacities to Handle Versatile Workloads
Of course, processors are just part of the equation. Memory also affects computing speed, and then there is the question of storage. The IQTC requires servers that are the whole package. This is especially pertinent since the data center is used by many scientists working in a wide range of academic disciplines. The new computing cluster has to satisfy all of their computational needs over a long period of time.
The R182-Z90 stands out in this function. As part of GIGABYTE’s R-Series of Rack Servers, it is designed with versatility in mind, offering an optimal balance between efficiency and reliability that makes it ideal for business-critical workloads. One of its noteworthy features is its array of 4 SATA hot-swappable HDD/SSD bays, which supports NVMe, an interface standard making use of the quick access and low latency of solid-state drives (SSD) to greatly accelerate data transfer. Because of this, the R182-Z90 is well-suited for the role of file storage, as well as file access via VPN, intranet hosting, and as a virtual server running multiple virtual machines.
The IQTC09 Cluster was built with a combination of both G292-Z42 and R182-Z90 servers for this reason. In the limited space available, administrators wanted an optimal mix of platforms with a wide range of functionalities, so they can offer greater flexibility and versatility to the data center’s users. The new computing cluster will have no trouble providing for the campus’s computational needs for the foreseeable future.
Fast, Secure, Easy Remote Management
In addition to the excellent hardware provided by GIGABYTE, the client has also expressed a deep appreciation of the enclosed software platform. Specifically, the IQTC has greatly benefited from GIGABYTE Server Management (GSM), a proprietary multiple server remote management application available as a free download from the server’s product page. Administrators at the IQTC are able to remotely monitor and manage the new computing cluster through their own mobile devices.
The R182-Z90 is a versatile Rack Server that benefits from the greater bandwidth, higher memory speed, and M.2 drive capacity of its AMD EPYC™ processors. Pair that with its small footprint and 4 SATA hot-swappable HDD/SSD bays, and you have a server ideal for business-critical workloads.
Here’s how it works. The IQTC09 Cluster is internally integrated via a 10G network, and it is connected to the outside world through a Gigabit Ethernet fiber-optic network with an IPMI communications interface. The GSM application is fully compatible with either IPMI or Redfish (RESTful API) connection interfaces. It comprises of the following sub-programs to make remote server management a walk in the park: ● GSM Server, an easy-to-use browser-based GUI that enables remote monitoring and management of multiple GIGABYTE servers via each node’s BMC. ● GSM CLI, a command-line interface program enabling global remote monitoring and management of multiple GIGABYTE servers via each node’s BMC. ● GSM Agent, a software program installed locally on each node that retrieves additional information (such as CPU, memory, etc.) from the OS and passes it to the BMC so the data can be utilized by the GSM Server or GSM CLI. It should be noted that GSM Agent is currently compatible with Avocent MergePoint IPMI 2.0 BMC firmware, but not with Megarac SP-X BMC firmware. ● GSM Mobile, a remote server management mobile APP available for both Android and iOS. ● GSM Plugin, a plugin that allows the user to manage and monitor the server nodes within VMware’s vCenter.
Thanks to these convenient and helpful functions, in addition to remotely controlling the servers with KVM over LAN, administrators can also whip out their mobile devices at a moment's notice to check in on the new cluster. This is a nice little touch that goes a long way towards ensuring availability, which is rule number one in maintaining a successful and useful data center.
GIGABYTE’s motto is “Upgrade Your Life”. It is a commitment to using tomorrow’s technology to solve problems today. In the case of the new computing cluster at the University of Barcelona, GIGABYTE was able to fully grasp the prestigious research university’s computational needs and provide just the right products for them. With the aid of server solutions from GIGABYTE, there’s no telling to what new heights the great minds at the Institute of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry will soar, and what scientific breakthroughs they will accomplish for the betterment of all humankind.