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Home > Tech Reiews > Tech Report Last Updated: 15:26 03/09/2007
Tech Report #30: July 16, 2003

Computer Network Information Center: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing China

Victor G. Stickel (Technology Analyst, ATIP)


A key High Performance Computing institute within the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is the Computer Network Information Center (CNIC). CNIC is located in the Zhonguancun hi-tech zone of Beijing and has a group of some 250 researchers comprised of faculty, visiting researchers and graduate students. The CNIC is home to the Supercomputing Center which is directed by Professor Xuebin CHI. The Supercomputing Center is directly funded by CAS and its main purpose is to support scientific research within various CAS Institutes. Additionally, the center supports research activities of Beijing University basic research in math, physics and chemistry - and Tsinghua University - engineering and applied science research from time to time.

The Supercomputing Center has a fairly small group of 22 researchers with 7 faculty members, 15 Masters and PhD students, 3 Post-Doctoral Researchers and 2 Visiting Researchers. Currently, the largest computer at the facility is a Dawning 2000 machine. This machine is comprised of 82 nodes, 512MB memory per node a 1.7 TB disk array and a very small amount of local storage at 9 GB. The machine uses an AIX OS with two IBM Power PC processors per node and is capable of 110 GFlops peak performance. The Dawning 2000-II machine is mainly used for scientific computing purposes by other Chinese Academy of Sciences Institutions, such as; the Institute of Physics - materials science and condensed matter studies, the Institute of Chemistry - molecular dynamics, bioinformatics, and pollution related phenomena, the Institute of Mechanics fluid dynamics. In addition to this, the machine is used by the Supercomputing Center researchers for basic HPC research including; algorithm testing, scalability studies and parallel software development.

In addition to the Dawning 2000-II machine the Supercomputing Center has 3 other computing platforms. The first is an SGI 16 CPU IRIX R10000 machine. This machine is also being used for scientific computing. Specifically, it is utilized to run Gaussian 98, NASTRAN and other computational chemistry codes. The second machine is a 9.6 GFlops 32CPU Hitachi SR2201 which was purchased in 1998. This machine, too, is employed for scientific computing, however, it has one major restriction the users are monitored by the Japanese government. The users must apply to the Japanese government in order to have machine time approved. Apparently, Hitachi representatives are able to directly telnet to this machine to verify users and jobs being run.

The final computing research platform is a small 4 node cluster of Pentium 4 1.5 GHz machines. This cluster is currently being developed to serve as a testbed for GRID applications.

The big news at the Supercomputing Center is that they have recently picked a winner of a competitive bid for a new 4TFlops supercomputer. Proposals had been submitted by both Dawning Information Technology Co. Ltd. and Legend Group Ltd and the latter was selected. Technical details of the new machine include a 60TB disk array storage capacity, 2TB of main memory and an 800 CPU cluster structure using Itanium2 Madison CPUs running IA-64 Linux OS. The budget has been set at 40 million RMB (~4.8M US$). Delivery of the new machine is scheduled for November 15, 2003.

Supercomputing Center researchers are currently focused on two project areas. The first area is the creation of basic parallel software libraries. Here, they are porting free public libraries for utilization on their machines. Additionally, researchers are developing their own parallel libraries for eigenvalue routines. The project has a budget of 300K RMB (~36K USD) for 2003. The second project area, with a budget of 1M RMB (~120K USD) for 2003, is related to the China National Grid (CN Grid). The new 4TF machine mentioned in the previous paragraph will become a grid node on the CN Grid which is to have 8-10 nodes across China. This project is in preparation and support towards that effort.

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