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System X

The VTMSCCT has access to Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing System X (ten) supercomputer through a fiber optic corridor managed by our partner, MidAtlantic Broadband Cooperative.

System X is a supercomputer consisting of 1,100 Apple PowerMac G5 computers assembled by Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students in the summer of 2003. System X is currently running at 12.25 Teraflops, (20.24 peak), and was last ranked number 47 (November, 2006) in the TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers. At that time, it was still the most powerful system categorized by TOP500 as self made at any university. In 2004, Virginia Tech upgraded its computer to Apple's newly released Xserve G5 servers. The upgraded version ranked number 7 in the 2004 TOP500 list. It is now part of Virginia Tech's suite of high performance computers being used for research.
The name comes from the original goal of 10 Teraflops on the high performance LINPACK benchmark. System X was constructed in a few months with a relatively low investment of $5.2 million, using "souped-up" off-the-shelf G5 computers with dual-2.0 GHz processors. In comparison, the Earth Simulator, the fastest supercomputer at that time, cost approximately $400 million to build.

In early 2004, Virginia Tech upgraded its computer to Apple's newly released Xserve G5 servers The upgraded version was number 7 in the 2004 TOP500 list, and cost one-fifth as much as the second least-expensive system in the top 10.

In October of 2004, Virginia Tech partially rebuilt System X at a cost of about $600,000. These improvements brought the computer's speed up to 12.25 Teraflops, which placed System X at number 14 on the 2005 TOP500 list. In 2005, the communication fiber and switches were upgraded, and System X was retired from competition to become a full-time research production resource.

More than 50 research projects have been awarded time on the system. These projects represent a wide cross-section of applications including materials (25.8% of allocated time), fluids (25.2%), biology (18.2%), and chemistry (10.9%).

System administrators work with users to ensure that the high-capability potential of System X is available for jobs that require it. For example, approximately 35% of the 5.6 million CPU hours that were used during the first 9 months of 2006 were devoted to jobs requiring 200 or more CPUs.

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