Purdue University receives $10M for Anvil supercomputer

The powerful device will be able to conduct a large range of computational and data-intensive research, from high-performance computing to artificial intelligence applications.

Purdue University will soon house Anvil, a powerful supercomputer, thanks to a $10 million reward from the National Science Foundation, according to a press release on Friday. Anvil will be able to support a slew of computing capabilities and data-intensive research, from regular high-performance computations to advanced artificial intelligence (AI) applications. 

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This supercomputer will boost the capacity available to the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), which serves tens of thousands of researchers across the US and has been a partner to Purdue for nine years. 

Anvil will begin production in 2021, serving researchers for five years, enabling a wide range of research in areas such as fluid dynamics and bioinformatics, and also for data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications.

"The name 'Anvil' reflects the Purdue Boilermakers' strength and workmanlike focus on producing results and the Anvil supercomputer will enable important discoveries across many different areas of science and engineering," said Preston Smith, executive director of research computing and a co-PI on the project, in the release.  

"Anvil also will serve as an experiential learning laboratory for students to gain real-world experience using computing for their science and for student interns to work with the Anvil team for construction and operation," Smith said. "We will be training the research computing practitioners of the future."

Details on the Anvil supercomputer 

Anvil, built in partnership with Dell and AMD, will have 1,000 nodes with two 62-core AMD Epyc "Milan" processors each. The supercomputer will be able to deliver more than 1 billion CPU Core hours to XSEDE every year, with a peak performance at 5.3 petaflops, according to the release.

The nodes will be interconnected with 100 Gbps Mellanox HDR InfiniBand. The entire supercomputer will also have 32 large memory nodes, with 1TB  of RAM each, as well as 16 nodes with four NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs supplying 1.5 PF of single-precision performance, with the intention of supporting machine learning and AI applications. 

Research conducted on Anvil will leverage a wide array of storage technologies, led by a 10+ PB parallel file system and supplemented with more than three PB of flash disk. Storage for ongoing projects and archival data will be provided by Purdue's Research Data Depot and Fortress archive, according to the release. 

Anvil will provide an impressive set of features that broaden advanced computing capabilities, including interactive computing and visualization functionalities. The system will also have a completely integrated web-based Open OnDemand gateway to Anvil's software tools and computer nodes. 

A composable subsystem within the computer will allow cloud and container-based workflows to run in tandem with the advanced computing system and will support modern scientific applications including gateways, databases, high-throughput data ingestion pipelines, and complex coupled modeling workflows, as stated in the release.

Anvil researchers will also be able to use both on-premises and commercial cloud computing via Microsoft Azure cloud. 

Supercomputers are known to interpret large volumes of complex data in a short amount of time, at a pace humans are unable to match. Most recently, supercomputers have even been used to accelerate the research process in the fight against the coronavirus

The Anvil supercomputer will join the cluster of other supercomputers that have been built at Purdue since 2008. 

For more, check out Photos: The world's 25 fastest supercomputers on TechRepublic.

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