Supercomputing is a general term that encompasses any high-speed
computational process, and whose definition changes as new computing methods
are developed. As per today, there are three areas of interest in supercomputing
at the IAC: distributed, parallel and grid
computing; although interrelated, there are some slight distinctions
between the terms.
The IAC also has several high-performance Linux machines, open to anyone,
where CPU- or memory-intensive jobs can be run.
For the latest hardware and software upgrades, service interruptions, etc.
see the Supercomputing News
Parallel computing is the simultaneous execution of the same
task (split up and specially adapted) on multiple processors in
order to obtain faster results (see also: Parallel
computing by Wikipedia). It takes place entirely within one
computer and adding additional processors allows for tasks to be
performed simultaneously thus increasing computing power and
speed. At present, there is only one Beowulf-type clusters at the IAC:
supercomputer, one of seven nodes located on Spanish territory
linked together to form the Spanish Supercomputing Network. The
LaPalma node is located at the La Palma Astrophysics Centre
(CALP). The network is financed by the Ministry of Education and
Science and coordinated from the Barcelona Supercomputing Center,
where one of the most powerful computers in Europe, the Mare Nostrum,
is located. In fact the LaPalma node was previously part of Mare
Nostrum and there a number of other "twin nodes" like it in Spain.
LaPalma Computing Time, in order to
learn how to get access to LaPalma.
Diodo, the 100-cpu beowulf cluster installed here in the IAC headquarters,
was retired from service at the end of 2012 after many hardware failures.
Distributed computing is the process of running a single computational
task on more than one distinct computer (see also: Distributed
computing by Wikipedia ). It is usually considered that distributed computing
takes place on a single network, while grid computing (see below) can utilize
the processing power of machines outside of a defined network. At the IAC the Condor
installed (working, but still in testing phase), which allows for distributed
opportunistic computing. Condor is an scavenging system, which allows you to
make use of idle machines across the IAC to run your programs. For more information
see the Condor system page at the IAC.
Grid computing offers a model for solving massive computational problems
using large numbers of computers arranged as clusters embedded in a distributed
telecommunications infrastructure. Grid computing's focus on the ability to
support computation across administrative domains sets it apart from traditional
distributed computing. Grid computing has the design goal of solving problems
too big for any single supercomputer, whilst retaining the flexibility to work
on multiple smaller problems. Thus grid computing provides a multi-user environment
(see also: Grid
computing by Wikipedia). If you are interested in Grid Computing,
please join the Grid
Mailing list at
the IAC, in order to discuss future developments, suggestions, etc.
High performance Linux PCs
Users who need to run CPU- or memory-intensive jobs, which are unsuitable
for either parallel processing or for the Condor system, can access any of
several high performance Linux PCs. These machines are open to any user and
do not require advanced reservation.
2 x AMD Dual core 2.0 GHz
Fedora 17 64bit
2 x AMD Quad Core 2.4 GHz
Fedora 17 64bit
To check if any other high-performance machines are available, you can use
the following Condor commands: condor_status -constraint 'TotalCpus >= 4' #
PCs with 4 or more CPUs condor_status -constraint 'Memory > 4000' #
PCs with 4GB or more RAM per CPU condor_status -constraint 'TotalCpus > 4 && Memory > 4000' -sort
KFlops # sort by CPU speed.