Wednesday, April 05, 2017

In March 2017, the HPC project became the fifth OneIT project to achieve closeout. The project scope evolved, due to staffing and time constraints and opportunities to expand use of central services, to focus on deployment of a new HPC system and integration of small HPC services.

The new system, Argon, launched in February 2017, enabling consolidation of 188 HPC systems from seven different units on campus. The project reduced the number of servers on campus by 113, consolidating systems from Chemistry (75), Biochemistry (22), Biology (17), Psychology (10), Physics and Astronomy (33), and Iowa Advanced Technology Labs (31) into Argon.

The total estimated savings of the project is $280,000 to $310,000 per year, including significant utility cost savings from reducing the number of clusters on campus and retiring the old system, streamlining the HPC account-provisioning process, and reducing the amount of staff time required to manage HPC systems. About $66,000 is directly attributable to the HPC project; the remainder is included in Data Centers and Server Consolidation Project savings calculations.

Argon replaced the aging Helium system, which was decommissioned in December. The new system is already heavily utilized, with utilization rates frequently averaging over 90%.

Another achievement of the project was the greater collaboration between Information Technology Services Research Services and various researchers and departments, which developed over the course of consolidations. This allows for more open dialogue, sharing of knowledge and best practices, and reduction in overhead of resources. Research Services has worked with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to provide additional cross-training and to share knowledge of how systems are being run.

High-Performance Computing