HPCC Happenings

News and updates regarding the HPCC

Hello HPC users!

A couple of developments you might like to know about:

  1. The RFP for the next cluster has been released and is being considered by vendors. This is the first step in figuring out what we might buy for the 2018 cluster. We are three months or so away from any decisions, but once we get closer, we will be able to provide accurate pricing for the new cluster and buy-ins. Stay tuned!
  2. The new MSU Data Center is up and running. A number of servers from ITS are now housed and running there. In fact, as a result of flooding near the Hannah Administration Building and Computer Center, more servers than were expected have been moved. The new 2018 HPC cluster (and eventually the older clusters) will also be housed in this center.
  3. Obtaining commercial GPUs such as the 1080Ti remain an issue. Bitcoin mining and other cryptocurrency have gobbled up most of the supply. This is a concern to NVIDIA, as their main revenue source is gamers. With a dwindling supply, gamers are looking at alternative GPU sources, such as AMD, and this concerns NVIDIA greatly. It is not clear whether the supply problems will clear up anytime soon, but it is a concern for some of our users. Of course, the more expensive V100 chips are available now. We will continue to monitor the problem and keep you apprised.


Bill Punch,
Associate Director, iCER

Dear HPCC users,

Though we are a little behind, we expect the RFP for the new cluster to go out in the next week or so. We clearly cannot talk about any prices for new buy-in computers until we get information back from the RFP, but we are looking at a few categories of compute nodes:

  • Basic compute nodes: two socket, 128GB or so memory. Memory is quite a bit more expensive now than in the past. Manufacturing is not keeping up with present heavy demand (phones, ssd's, graphics cards, etc.).
  • High performance graphics nodes, potentially with the new v100 cards.
  • Less expensive graphics nodes. This is more of a challenge given the present state of consumer graphics cards. Such cards are in short supply because of cryptocurrency mining. Nvidia is actively discouraging resellers from providing solutions in volume with consumer cards. We will still explore this approach but it will be challenging.

We still expect to get a new cluster in the data center by late spring, early summer. Our RFP will include purchasing a new disk and scratch system, so the new cluster can stand on its own once brought up. When the new cluster is tested and in production, we will bring down the old cluster and move its elements to the data center. In this way we hope to avoid any downtime.

We will continue to post information via the newsletter and on the iCER website at https://icer.msu.edu/users/buy-options


Bill Punch,
Associate Director, iCER