MANHASSET, N.Y. It may have taken "seven days" to create the world, but Purdue University engineers assembled their new supercomputer by lunchtime on the first day.
Their goal was to build the Big Ten Conference's largest campus supercomputer in just one day, Monday (May 5).
"The assembly was finished much faster than we expected, and by noon we were doing science," said Gerry McCartney, vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
By 1 p.m. local time, more than 500 of the 812 nodes that make up the supercomputer were already running 1,400 research jobs.
The supercomputer, dubbed "Steele" for John Steele, a former staff and faculty member, consists of 812 Dell servers and is capable of performing 60 trillion operations per second. Purdue's supercomputer ranks among the top 40 in the current listing of the world's most powerful supercomputers, and is the largest supercomputer on a Big Ten campus that is not a part of a national center.
The first shift was scheduled to begin unpacking boxes at 7 a.m., but many employees arrived at 6 a.m., eager to begin work. By 11 a.m., the supercomputer was essentially complete, except for a few nodes that were intentionally held back to be installed during a noon dedication.
Indiana University, Purdue's rival on the athletic fields, surprised the Purdue IT staff by sending a crew of technicians to help build the machine.
"We often collaborate with people from Purdue on research proposals by videoconferencing, but we don't routinely get the opportunity to work together in person," said Matt Link, director of research technology systems at IU.