CLEMSON — The TOP500, a project that ranks and details the 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world, has ranked Clemson University’s Palmetto Cluster No. 81 in the world and within the top-five for systems at universities provisioned for use primarily on their own campuses.

In its recently released 2013 list, Clemson’s Palmetto Cluster’s performance is listed as 396.7 teraflops. One teraflop is one trillion mathematical operations per second. Clemson’s Palmetto is a pioneering example of a computer condominium, providing users with shares of large cluster-based computing resources that are are fully administered and supported by the host IT organization. Palmetto is used by researchers, students, faculty and staff from a very broad range of disciplines.

“This was the result of the fall ‘condo’ purchases by faculty researchers and the contribution from Clemson to support additional nodes,” said Clemson University’s chief technology officer, Jim Pepin. “The use of accelerators are producing massive increases in benchmark results with far fewer nodes (connection points) and less power per operation. As applications adapt to these new technologies, significant increases in computational power will be available to all the researchers at Clemson University.”

It is not the first time that TOP500 has ranked Clemson University among the top computer systems in the world. Since the university’s Palmetto Cluster debuted in June 2008 —at a speed of 31 teraflops — it has appeared annually.

“Clemson’s continued high ranking in the TOP500 means that the partnership between faculty researchers and IT support staff remains strong and highly leveraged,” Clemson’s vice president for computing and CIO Jim Bottum said. “Over 40 academic departments are now benefitting from education and research on this system.”

Not only is Clemson ranked among the top universities for supercomputer speed, Clemson also excels at running a supercomputer. “Because the lifetime of high-performance computing (HPC) hardware averages only four to five years, it is crucial to install new hardware quickly for maximum return on investment,” said Randy Martin, executive director for advanced computing infrastructure. “Clemson HPC engineers routinely install new Palmetto cluster hardware within one week of arrival. Palmetto’s average utilization is around 90–96 percent.”

Besides maintaining the Palmetto cluster, Clemson HPC engineers collaborate with faculty and students to present at national conferences, participate in research activities and participate in vendor case studies. Several recent achievements include a co-authored whitepaper with Intel on high-density air-cooling, and a Clemson success story with Altair regarding the use of the PBS Pro job scheduler on Palmetto.

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