Babes-Bolyai University Supports World-Class Academic Research with the Most Powerful University Supercomputer in Romania

Overview
To push the boundaries of knowledge, researchers thirst for access to high-performance computing resources that will analyze data and produce results faster. To fulfill this desire, Babes-Bolyai University, one of Romania’s leading research universities, worked with ETA2U to implement a Lenovo Intelligent Cluster based on Lenovo NeXtScale M5 compute nodes and powered by over 1,000 Intel® Xeon® processor cores. Today, the university can provide all researchers with the resources they need to run complex, compute-intensive experiments, enhancing its reputation as a first-rate center for research.
 
“We can now allocate HPC resources to researchers quickly and easily, accelerating projects and shortening time to results.”
 —Professor Gheorghe Silaghi,
Head of Business Information Systems,
Babe?-Bolyai University
 
Solution components
Hardware
Lenovo Intelligent Cluster
•             Lenovo NeXtScale System M5
•             Lenovo NeXtScale nx360 M5 compute nodes with Intel® Xeon® E5 processor family and Intel Xeon Phi™ coprocessors
•             Lenovo RackSwitch G8052 switches
•             Mellanox SX6512 216-Port InfiniBand Director Switch
•             NVIDIA Tesla K40 GPUs
Lenovo Flex System Enterprise Chassis
Lenovo Flex System x240 compute nodes
 
Software
Lenovo Platform HPC
IBM Spectrum Scale
Intel Parallel Studio XE 2016
Red Hat Enterprise Linux
 
“Feedback from users has been fantastic – researchers are delighted to have access to state-of-the-art HPC resources.”
 —Professor Gheorghe Silaghi,
Head of Business Information Systems,
Babe?-Bolyai University
 
Babe?-Bolyai University (UBB) is a leading research university located in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. With more than 41,000 students, UBB is the country’s largest university, and offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Romanian, Hungarian, German, English, and French. According to a Romanian Ministry of Education meta ranking exercise in 2016, UBB is the best-ranked university in Romania according to various international rankings. As well as being ranked 701+ in the 2016-2017 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, UBB regularly tops national higher education league tables.

Professor Gheorghe Silaghi, Head of Business Information Systems at Babe?-Bolyai University, begins: “To retain our position as Romania’s leading research university, we must meet growing demand for high-performance computing.”

Meeting high demand for HPC
Today, more and more faculties need access to HPC resources to run advanced data analysis and simulations to forward their research – be it in quantum mechanics or weather forecasting. But without a centralized, dedicated HPC facility in place, UBB simply could not meet demand for computational resources.

“In the past, research groups had to make do with their own individual computing resources, which were often small and not very powerful,” says Professor Gheorghe Silaghi. “Demand for HPC resources far outstripped supply, holding up research.”

To support groundbreaking research, UBB knew that it needed to give all researchers easy access to cutting-edge HPC resources.

Professor Gheorghe Silaghi comments: “After running a series of consultations and workshops with the university’s research groups, it became clear that we needed to invest in a central, shared HPC facility.”

Investing in the best
After a careful evaluation UBB chose to implement a Lenovo Intelligent Cluster, delivered via technology partner ETA2U SRL.

“Not only did the Lenovo solution meet all of our technical requirements, it also offered the lowest total cost of ownership,” recalls Professor Gheorghe Silaghi. “The fact that the solution was delivered by a local partner made choosing Lenovo an easy decision.”

UBB worked closely with ETA2U to deploy a cluster based on 68 Lenovo NeXtScale nx360 M5 compute nodes powered by Intel® Xeon® E5 2660 v3 processor family. Selected nodes in the cluster also feature Intel Xeon Phi™ coprocessors and NVIDIA Tesla K40 GPUs. Utilizing Lenovo RackSwitch G8052 switches and Mellanox SX6512 216-Port InfiniBand Director Switches to connect to UBB’s storage systems enables the entire system to benchmark at 42 TFLOPS. UBB’s new HPC infrastructure is the most powerful university supercomputer in Romania. For cluster management, Lenovo Intelligent Cluster runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the Lenovo Platform HPC management solution is used to schedule jobs.

As part of its drive to make IT resources more accessible to researchers, UBB also implemented a shared cloud infrastructure based on Lenovo Flex System technology. Professor Gheorghe Silaghi notes: “We are currently in the process of configuring our Flex System infrastructure. Once it is ready, we plan to use it to deliver on-demand virtual machines to research groups, providing extra support for their projects.”

Turbocharging research
With the Lenovo Intelligent Cluster in place, powerful compute resources are available to all researchers at the university.

Professor Gheorghe Silaghi remarks: “Because UBB now manages the provisioning of HPC resources centrally, we can provide research groups with exactly the compute capacity they need. For example, some researchers only need one or two nodes to analyze a small data set, while others require 20 nodes to create simulations of molecular dynamics. Whatever their requirements, we are able to allocate HPC resources to researchers quickly and easily, accelerating projects and shortening time to results.

“Feedback from users has been fantastic – researchers are delighted to have access to state-of-the-art HPC resources. Utilization of the cluster is high, typically 80 percent, as more and more research groups take advantage of the facility. We can also offer students, who previously did not have access to HPC resources, the chance to work with supercomputer resources and learn new skills. In fact, we recently introduced two new Masters programs in computer science, offering students the chance to learn more, supported by the Lenovo cluster.”

As the biggest academic-sector HPC system in Romania, researchers from universities across the country may require remote access to UBB’s supercomputer to support their work. “We’re only too happy to give colleagues from partner universities the chance to use the Lenovo Intelligent Cluster,” says Professor Gheorghe Silaghi. “Sharing resources means that researchers can run large-scale experiments that they might not otherwise have been able to at their own universities, helping to advance knowledge.”

He concludes: “The Lenovo supercomputer is helping us to maintain our reputation as a leading research university and boosting our appeal as a place to study. Most importantly, it is supporting truly world-class research – and we are very proud of that.”

For more information
To learn more about Lenovo Data Center Systems solutions, contact your Lenovo Sales Representative or Lenovo Business Partner, or visit: lenovo.com/systems

For more information about Babe?-Bolyai University, visit: www.ubbcluj.ro/en/ or connect with @UnivBabesBolyai
 
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