The zBox Supercomputer
- Our in-house designed (Joachim Stadel & Ben Moore 2003), massively parallel supercomputer for running our cosmological N-body simulations. This machine consists of 288 AMD Athlon-MP 2200+ (1.8 GHz) CPUs within a few cubic meters. Under load it produces about 45 kW of heat, about equivalent to 45 electric hair dryers operating continuously! This amount of heat, combined with the extremely high density necessitated a new design for efficient cooling. The 144 nodes (2 CPUs per node) are connected using an SCI fast interconnect supplied by Dolphin in a 12x12 2-dimensional torus. The layout of the machine is ring-like, thereby allowing very short "ribbon" cables to be used between the nodes. This fast interconnect network attains a peak bisection bandwidth of 96 Gbits/sec, with a node-node write/read latency as low as 1.5/3.5 microseconds. Additionally the zBox has 11.5 TBytes of disk (80 GBytes/node) and 3 Gbits/s I/O bandwidth to a frontend server with 7 TB of RAID-5 storage. This is among the fastest parallel computers in the world! At "first light" it ranked in the top 100, but the technology advances quickly.