More Than 2,000 Dell Servers to be Used for Advanced Research at UB

Linux cluster is one of the largest ever housed at a U.S. educational institution

Release Date: September 3, 2002 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. - Dell and the University at Buffalo today announced one of the largest clusters of Linux servers ever at a U.S. educational institution.

The high-performance computing cluster (HPCC) is comprised of more than 2,000 Dellâ„¢ PowerEdgeâ„¢ servers and a Dell/EMC storage area network and will be used for human genome research, bio-informatics, protein structure prediction and large-scale computer simulations.

The cluster will be used by the Skolnick Group in the Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics at the University at Buffalo.

A cluster is a group of network servers connected together to act as a single, high-powered computer. High-performance computing clusters to be used by the Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics perform trillions of complex calculations per second, accomplishing work that was previously reserved for multi-million dollar mainframe computers. Server clusters are able to complete the work at a fraction of the cost.

Jeffrey Skolnick, Ph.D., director of the Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics, and his team will use the cluster to conduct research that could eventually help speed drugs to market to combat cancer, Alzheimer's, AIDS and a variety of other diseases.

In addition to the more than 2,000 dual-processor Dell PowerEdge servers, the cluster includes more than 16 terabytes of storage using a Dell/EMC storage area network.

"Dell's exceptional price performance allowed us to acquire low-cost servers that will give us extremely high levels of computing power," said Skolnick. "Deploying industry-standard technology in the form of a server cluster enables us to process the massive amount of data that is critical when doing this type of research."

Bill Rodrigues, Dell's vice president and general manager for education and health care, noted, "We are seeing a continuing trend in higher education toward affordable industry-standard server clusters. These systems are now allowing universities to conduct research that was once the province of just a few, selected locations around the world."

Rodrigues added: "I have no doubt that the research Dr. Skolnick and his team will accomplish can have a lasting, positive effect on society. We are proud to have been selected as their technology partner."

To assist Skolnick and his team in completing the installation and operation of the server cluster, Dell is providing a variety of services, from custom configuration to installation. For example, to accommodate the research team's delivery schedule, Dell built the server cluster at a nearby "staging" area in New York to test and prepare it prior to delivering the complete, ready-to-run cluster on the agreed-upon delivery date.

The cluster consists of more than 2,000 Dell PowerEdge 2650 and PowerEdge 1650 servers running Red Hat Linux, with more than 4,000 Intel processors, including Intel Xeon processors. Platform Computing's LSF 5 workload management software is used to automate and manage complex computations across the server nodes. The cluster connects to a 16 terabyte Dell/EMC Storage Area Network (SAN), and uses Extreme Networks BlackDiamond switches for Gigabit I/O connectivity between the nodes.

Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL) is a premier provider of products and services required for customers worldwide to build their information-technology and Internet infrastructures. The company's revenue for the past four quarters totaled $31.2 billion. Dell, through its direct business model, designs, manufactures and customizes products and services to customer requirements, and offers an extensive selection of software and peripherals. Information on Dell and its products can be obtained at

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