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Indiana University unveils supercomputer Big Red 200

New artificial intelligence system—the first next-gen supercomputer based on HPE’s Cray Shasta architecture deployed in the world—gives IU researchers the power the explore new frontiers in medicine, cybersecurity, climate change, and more

Research and discovery High performance systems Jan 28, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—With artificial intelligence capabilities and a peak performance rate of more than 6 petaFLOPS, Indiana University’s latest supercomputer solidifies its standing as a high-performance computing powerhouse.

Big Red 200 will operate at a peak rate more than six times faster than its predecessor (Big Red II), with greater than 6 quadrillion—or six thousand trillion—floating-point operations per second, or petaFLOPS. Named Big Red 200 in honor of the IU Bicentennial celebration, the new system is more than 300 times faster than the original Big Red supercomputer installed 15 years ago. IU dedicated Big Red 200 as part of IU’s Bicentennial event, “A Day of Commemoration: IU’s 200th Anniversary,” on January 20, 2020.

“Big Red 200 is giant leap forward in supercomputing capacity to support IU researchers and students,” said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for IT and chief information officer. “As one of Cray’s newest and most sophisticated systems, it will support large-scale research in medicine, climate modeling, physics, and hundreds of academic disciplines. The combination of the AMD Rome CPUs and the next-generation NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs are well-matched to the needs of IU researchers for simulation, AI, and many forms of research.”

How fast is Big Red 200? It would take everyone in the state of Indiana more than 28 years— performing one calculation per second 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—to perform the same number of calculations that Big Red 200 can do in just one second.

IU partnered with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NVIDIA to build Big Red 200. The new system is the first of HPE’s next-generation Cray Shasta supercomputers to be deployed anywhere in the world and is specifically crafted for IU’s needs. While multiple pre-exascale and exascale systems using Shasta have been announced, Big Red 200 is the first production to be installed and is housed in the university’s state-of-the-art Data Center. Upgrades to the IU Data Center will allow Big Red 200 to leverage warm water cooling, according to American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) W3 temperatures.

“We are excited to play a role in Indiana University’s bicentennial celebration today. Big Red 200 is powered by the Cray Shasta architecture, which utilizes technologies designed for the exascale era to fuel complex research and make world-changing discoveries,” said Peter Ungaro, senior vice president and general manager, HPC and AI, HPE. “We look forward to continuing to support Indiana University’s mission and are honored to provide the computational horsepower that helps it attract amazing scientists to meet their research objectives and foster economic development.”

Big Red 200 contains nearly 100,000 cores and leverages HPE’s Cray Slingshot interconnect technology. The system will also feature 256 NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs to be added in the fall. When that happens, IU’s Big Red 200 will be architecturally similar to the pre-exascale Perlmutter system in development for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). (NERSC is the primary scientific computing facility for the Office of Science in the U.S. Department of Energy.)

“NVIDIA is honored to be a part of the investment Indiana University has chosen to make in its students and faculty,” said Cheryl Martin, director of higher education at NVIDIA. “With the Big Red 200 reveal, IU becomes one of the preeminent universities providing the required platform for accelerating today’s HPC and AI research.”

Learn more about Big Red 200 >>

Here’s what IU researchers are saying about Big Red 200:

“With the application of AI to data-intensive cybersecurity, these research frontiers require advanced systems to scale our defenses to meet the high speed of today’s cyber threats,” said Von Welch, IU executive director for cybersecurity innovation. “This advancement in IU’s cyberinfrastructure will allow us to advance the state of AI in cybersecurity in IU’s leading-edge cybersecurity services: OmniSOC and ResearchSOC.”

“I am excited about utilizing the AI capabilities of Big Red 200 to accelerate the research programs in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at the IU School of Medicine,” said Distinguished Professor Tatiana Foroud, chair of the department. “Importantly, Big Red 200 will be an essential resource for the Precision Health Initiative, one of the Indiana University Grand Challenges, which is designed to enhance the prevention, treatment and health outcomes of human diseases through a more precise analysis of the genetic, developmental, behavioral and environmental factors that shape an individual’s health.”

“I’m a climate modeler, and IU’s commitment to making advanced supercomputers available to faculty, staff and students is one of the reasons I took the job here,” said Ben Kravitz, professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “I can do so much amazing work because IU wants to make it happen.”

About Indiana University

Founded in 1820, Indiana University is one of the world’s foremost public institutions. With more than 94,000 students and 21,000 employees statewide, IU continues to pursue its core missions of education and research while building a foundation for the university’s enduring strengths in teaching and learning, world-class scholarship, innovation, creative activity, community engagement and academic freedom. Bloomington is the flagship campus of the university, and each one of IU’s seven campuses is an accredited, four-year degree-granting institution.


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