2004
NUS And SCS Unveil Biggest Supercomputing Grid In The Region

Singapore, 16 November 2004
  • Plugs NUS into Singapore's first tera-scale campus-wide grid - a virtual supercomputing platform that rivals the top supercomputers on Top500.org
  • Employs industry-leading commercial grid technology from United Devices
  • Breakthrough is largest of its kind in the region outside of US and Europe


The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Computer Systems Limited (SCS) today announced the setting-up of a world-class supercomputing grid at NUS - the Tera-Scale Campus Grid or TCG@NUS.

TCG@NUS is Singapore's first large-scale campus-wide grid implementation which harnesses idle computing capacity to generate high-speed computing power.

TCG@NUS is a groundbreaking regional project, as it is the largest of its kind among educational institutions outside of the US and Europe. Renowned US universities, which are already connected to campus-wide grids, include Purdue, Texas A&M and the University of Florida.

Comparable to world's fastest supercomputers

Initially, 800 computers will be aggregated to form the grid. Using a prudent estimation method, the 800 computers can yield a theoretical peak performance of 2 to 6 Teraflops or 2 to 6 trillion floating-point operations per second.

This ability to perform tera-scale computations will catapult the TCG@NUS grid to the top 500 rankings of the world's fastest supercomputers, if implemented within a single machine. The top five supercomputers in the world, including the Earth Simulator in Japan, have a theoretical peak performance of between 15.30 to 40.96 Teraflops.

Project details

SCS, one of Asia Pacific's leading information and communications service providers, will link NUS computers into the grid. SCS' involvement in the systems integration of the project includes:
 

  • Infrastructure deployment, consisting of system software for the servers and agent software for the node computers;
  • Hardware deployment for the servers managing and controlling TCG@NUS; and
  • Development and enabling of applications to be deployed on TCG@NUS.


The grid management infrastructure will be implemented using United Devices' Grid MPTM Platform. United Devices is a leading provider of secure grid solutions with a proven track record of building large-scale, heterogeneous grids. Its Grid MPTM platform creates a virtual infrastructure that enables existing computer systems and networks to be translated into shared resources.

In May 2004, SCS was appointed as the official value-added reseller of United Devices' products - the first in this region except for Japan.

Win-win collaboration

NUS and SCS today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the project.

Speaking at the launch of TCG@NUS, NUS Provost Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, said, "We are delighted to join forces with SCS to set up TCG@NUS, which will enhance the quality of our research and allow NUS to break important new research grounds. Many NUS research programmes, for example in fields such as biochemistry and financial engineering will benefit substantially from this. As one of the region's leading academic and research institutions, we are proud to host the region's first supercomputing grid network in the educational field."

Said Mr Pek Yew Chai, President and CEO of SCS, "We are proud to collaborate with NUS to launch TCG@NUS, especially since this new paradigm will put NUS at the forefront of supercomputing ability in this region's educational field. At SCS, grid and cluster computing plays an important role in our strategy of expanding the breadth and depth of our solutions. TCG@NUS will serve as another important reference site for us, as it enhances our track record in the area of grid and cluster computing and entrenches our position as a leader in this field. Our associate company - Scalable Systems, is already a leader in the cluster computing space with their Scalable Rocks cluster software, which has customers and partners globally today. We expect grid and cluster computing to be a key driver for SCS."

Boosting NUS' competitive advantage

This breakthrough catapults NUS into a regional leader in supercomputing ability and strengthens its image as a distinguished university in this region.

The super-speed computational capabilities harnessed from the grid will spur new possibilities in academic research, allowing NUS researchers to explore new ideas, widen their research scope and break boundaries. Researchers will be able to perform simulation of synthetic environments, handle large amounts of data, execute sophisticated calculations and run complex models and applications that ordinarily would be too huge for a single computer to handle. This enables more productive studies and accurate analysis.

Researchers in the areas of biochemistry, life sciences, financial engineering, cryptography and digital media will stand to benefit from tapping this cutting-edge grid technology - as many top pharmaceutical companies are already doing.

For example, at the Department of Biochemistry, researchers will be able to enhance molecular modelling and docking for the discovery of new drugs. The increased processing power of TCG@NUS will dramatically cut down the lead-time of analysis of interactions or dynamics between a small ligand and a receptor molecule from 3-5 weeks to a few hours.

The Centre for Financial Engineering at NUS will also be applying grid computing in two Financial Engineering research areas - namely in the Pricing of Complex Exotic Options and Structured Products using Monte-Carlo Simulations and in enterprise risk management study which requires the aggregation of the pricing and hedging of individual financial products to obtain a broad picture of an institution's overall risk.

The massive computational power of TCG@NUS would enable researchers to widen their scope of research. For instance, researchers in genomics will be able to include more complex genomes like the human and mouse, which have more sequences.

TCG@NUS also creates new capabilities by exploiting existing computer resources, without the need to deploy new computer hardware, as capacity and distribution of workload is shared across a network of hundreds or thousands of separate processors. This is the best illustration of grid computing value, providing multi-million dollar computing capabilities at a fraction of the cost, translating into significant cost savings.

Entrenching Singapore's leadership in grid computing

TCG@NUS reinforces Singapore's leadership in grid computing and entrenches the country's position as a hot bed for this next step in the evolution of the IT environment. It also paves the way for new commercial and research opportunities in the future.

According to an April 2004 IDC report, the grid computing market is estimated to exceed US$12 billion by 2007. Singapore, with its strong IP and IT skill, will stand to benefit from its position as a regional computing service hub.

Already, grid computing is revolutionising the way companies do business, by supporting enhanced communications, cutting costs and improving time-to-market.

Commenting on this trend, Mr Pek said, "We are seeing the increasing use of Grid technology in areas such as Digital Media, Life Sciences and Engineering R&D. We already have customers who are exploring with us the ability to link their in-house Linux clusters to a central grid resource for additional computing power when they exceed their peak capacity. This scenario would become increasingly common as more and more vendors offer grid or utility computing and as customers seek to lower their operations costs."

"Well-known global companies are already tapping on grid computing. For example, Charles Schwab, the global financial services giant, has taken grid computing one step further by leveraging on this cutting edge technology and its own resources to integrate data and perform better analysis of its customers' profiles. This allows the company to provide better, targeted product offerings and optimal portfolios to its customers. In the area of digital media, grid computing offers scalability and enables the digital restoration of old films and the layering of special effects. Companies, such as Lucas Films, maker of the Star Wars trilogy, have already begun to use grid computing to break new grounds in high definition film making," added Mr Pek.

"Indeed, companies can take bigger, bolder steps in driving their businesses with grid computing. It won't be long before Singapore companies jump on this bandwagon to tap the tremendous opportunities grid computing can offer," concluded Mr Pek.

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

Acknowledged as one of the finest universities in the Asia-Pacific region, NUS is a comprehensive university, which offers a broad-based curriculum underscored by multidisciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. It has 12 faculties, with an enrolment of more than 23,000 undergraduate and 9,000 graduate students. NUS actively promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, both in the classroom and research facilities. It enjoys a close teaching-research nexus with 13 affiliated national-level, 10 university-level and more than 60 faculty-based research institutes and centres. The University is strongly committed to advancing knowledge and fostering innovation, educating students and nurturing talent in service of country and society. For more information, please visit http://www.nus.edu.sg

About United Devices

United Devices is the market leader in enterprise grid solutions. The company's Grid MP platform is used to operate clusters of any size as well as aggregate compute resources on a network to create an enterprise grid capable of running a wide range of high-performance computing applications in life sciences, geosciences, manufacturing, financial services, chemical engineering and other industries. United Devices also operates the world's largest Grid for grand-scale research that consists of more than 2.5 million devices in over 220 countries. For more information on secure grid solutions, visit the United Devices Web site www.ud.com. To volunteer your idle compute power, visit www.grid.org.

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