Cornell Uses NT

Cornell University ( has announced that it used the Windows NT platform to install a 256-processor cluster consisting of Dell PowerEdge servers, each with four Intel Pentium III Xeon 500 Mhz processors, 2 MB of L2 cache per processor, 4 GB RAM and 54 GB of disk space at the Cornell Theory Center (CTC, The primary cluster interconnect is provided by Giganet Inc.

Cornell reports the cluster, dubbed AC3 Velocity, will server as a production high-performance computing resource for CTC’s research community and the Advanced Cluster Computing Consortium (AC3).

According to a Microsoft spokesperson, Microsoft has donated $400,000 to the CTC and is offering another grant of $200,000 next year, while agreeing to contribute 64 Windows NT licenses and 64 Windows 2000 licenses when the new OS is available.

The whole operation is a boon for Microsoft, which gets to promote Windows NT’s somewhat questionable scalability. The Redmond giant also gets to poke more fun at IBM Corp., who’s supercomputer is being replaced by the AC3 Velocity at Cornell.

Andrew Ainslie, a market research analyst at the CTC, is very pleased with using NT for the supercomputing environment. "We are able to develop code on inexpensive machines in our offices, and then scale the application massively when it is ready to run," Ainslie says.

In preparation for the arrival of the 256-processor cluster, CTC’s Cluster Computing Solutions Group has been porting applications to a smaller cluster that was received as part of a Technology for Education 2000 grant that Intel made to Cornell in 1997. The grant enabled Cornell to develop expertise in moving applications from Unix systems to Wintel. -- Brian Ploskina

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.