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Background

The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, also known as the Albert Einstein Institute (AEI), was founded in 1995 for the purpose of carrying out research into the fundamental laws of gravitation. As part of this effort, the institute’s Observational Relativity and Cosmology (ORC) division, based in Hannover, Germany, focuses on the direct observable consequences of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and its relationship to astrophysics and cosmology.

This research is compute-intensive, and timely results depend on the amount of computing power available to process the observational data. For this reason, a central activity of the ORC team is to maintain and increase the group’s computing resources. This team’s main responsibility is to manage the Atlas computing cluster, the world’s largest and most powerful resource dedicated to gravitational wave searches and data analysis.

Challenges

It was vital that the power of Atlas be expanded to handle the increasing requirements of the data analysts using it. Dr. Henning Fehrmann, Cluster Administrator, AEI ORC explains: “The work our scientists carry out is very detailed and is built on highly complex special algorithms which need immense amounts of computing power to run. With the second stage of an important project about to start, we were asked to increase the capacity of Atlas so it could be completed successfully.”

As with any publicly funded body, the ORC team has to work on a tight budget. The team needed a cost-effective way to upgrade the Atlas computing cluster and asked vendors for bids.

Solution

The ORC team chose the Huawei solution, offered by IT distributor Go Virtual. This solution relies on the Huawei FusionServer RH1288 V3, a general-purpose rack server designed to support a range of data-intensive applications. The server offers High-Performance Computing (HPC), large storage capacity, and low power consumption. With easy scalability and high reliability, the server is easy to deploy and manage.

The small size of the RH1288 V3 enabled the institute to double the computing capacity using only a conventional rack.



“We knew that the on-going running costs of the new servers was also an important factor for AEI,” comments Dr. Hans-Joachim Hinz of Go Virtual. “With a combination of very energy-efficient power supply units and simple management and maintenance, the FusionServer more than meets this need.”

Go Virtual completed the installation in three phases that went according to plan. The usual minor problems were dealt with quickly. The Huawei support team provided support at every step, from the initial architecture design to final commissioning.

Benefits


Cluster Administrator Dr. Henning Fehrmann expressed satisfaction with both the servers and their installation: “The cluster extension with the new machines has allowed us to double the overall computing power of Atlas and has significantly improved our ability to perform follow-up analyses of gravitational wave signals. We are very happy with the way everything has worked and are impressed with the professional support we have received. The free software for Configuration Memory Operating System and Baseboard Management Controller (CMOS and BMC) management has been an added bonus.”

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