The LMVL hit a milestone in October by logging its 1,000th visitor for the year 2011. Over 100 of these visitors were from businesses and government agencies that are interested in the research being performed at the University and at MSI. We have also been visited by government officials, notably U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in February and U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN) in September. Many of the visitors saw 3D virtual-reality visualizations prepared by researchers at the Medical Devices Center, who are working on new ways of testing such devices as artificial heart valves. Even the University's new president, Eric Kaler, visited the LMVL to see the MDC's work during his tour of the College of Science and Engineering prior to his inauguration.

In addition to business and government visitors, over 400 students have also toured the lab this year. These have included: elementary-, middle-, and high-school students participating in various camps and programs; prospective University students; and undergraduate and graduate students from the University and other local colleges and universities. Other groups touring the lab and seeing visualization demos included various organizations at the University and visitors from other colleges, universities, and professional organizations.

Faculty in such fields as astronomy, mechanical engineering, earth sciences, biomedical engineering, computer science, writing studies, and anthropology have used the LMVL to create visualizations that support and extend their research, and several MSI PIs use the lab to present visualizations to visitors to their departments. Finally, four classes taught by MSI PIs during 2011 have used the LMVL for class sessions.

The new Wind Energy Research Station at the University's UMore Park hosted a commissioning event on October 25 at the U’s UMore Park. MSI is one of the U units participating in the Eolos Wind Energy Consortium with a number of other educational and industry partners.

Professor and MSI Fellow Chris Cramer (Chemistry) received a 2010-11 Morse Alumni Award for distinguished teaching. Read about this award on the University Alumni Association website. Professor Cramer has been a Fellow of the Institute since 1996.

The cover article of the September 2011 issue of Drug Metabolism and Disposition was written by MSI Principal Investigator Yuk Sham (Center for Drug Design) and his research group. The article is called "pH-Dependent Transport of Pemetrexed by Breast Cancer Resistance Protein."


The Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) is happy to announce that it has added 550 TB of usable disk space for its flagship Itasca system with the addition of a Dell | Terascala HPC Storage Solution (HSS). This is a complete Lustre appliance including hardware, file system and the Terascala ISIS management solution. The HSS consists of 360 2-TB disk drives configured in Raid 5 storage with small raid sets, three pairs of data movers, and a pair of meta-data servers, all with redundancy and managed failover capabilities.


This new storage solution performs 5 times faster on IO-intensive applications and it is expected that this solution will enhance MSI users' computations by making data input and output significantly faster.


Actual performance testing showed results of:

  • 1 GB/s read and 620 MB/s write for single clients;
  • 16.2 GB/s read and 13 GB/s write for sets of 50 clients;
  • 11.4 GB/s read and 8.1 GB/s write for MPI IO with 50 clients (4 TB files).


"Terascala has intelligently and effectively streamlined the formidable tasks of Lustre installation, deployment and management," said MSI's Assistant Director of HPC Operations, Jeff McDonald. "Terascala has turned Lustre into an appliance that just works once you plug it in. The system was fully deployed in two racks when it arrived on 24 September. After unpacking, the system was powered and connected and minutes later we were writing to the filesystem!"


Terascala has also integrated a management console with their solution. In one application, the console displays the current state of the system by key component, and it issues alerts via email when any arise. "With the management console, we no longer have to look for issues ourselves; the system nearly manages itself -- a striking contrast from 'roll your own' Lustre deployments," said McDonald.


The new Dell | Terascala HSS storage appliance is connected to MSI's Itasca system, an HP Linux cluster with 1,091 HP ProLiant BL280c G6 blade servers, each with two-socket, quad-core 2.8 GHz Intel Xeon X5560 "Nehalem EP" processors sharing 24 GB of system memory, with a 40-gigabit QDR InfiniBand (IB) interconnect. In total, Itasca consists of 8,728 compute cores and 24 TB of main memory.


This new system will be used by the research community for applications including weather modeling, galactic modeling, computational fluid dynamics, bioinformatics research and computational chemistry.