The SCB title is attributed to this first phase.
SCB was founded in 1994. Its ceration ad initial phase was funded through the Universities Development Fund, together with several other centers. First, an SGI POWER Challenge L computer with six MIPS R8000 processors with a theoretical computing power of 6x 300 MFLOPS (excellent performance taking into account less that 200 MHz freqence of each processor), the most powerfull computer for the Czech academic community at that time, was purchased and installed.
In 1996 this computer was upograded to SGI Power Challenge XL with 12 MIPS R10000 processors, that overcome the major drawback of the older R8000 processors, the unballanced performance of operations with floating point and integer numbers. This system again topped the performance of academic computer available in the Czech Republic and could even be a member of the TOP500 list (of the 500 most poerfull computers in the world).
In 1998 and 1999 SCB extended substantially its computing resources through provisioning of SGI Origin 2000 computer with 32 MIPS R10000 processors and SGI Onyx 2 with 8 MIPS R10000 processors and top level graphics subsystem RealityEngine2. The Origin 2000 system was so powerfull that the import licenses were granted only after Czech Republic officialy joined NATO.
In 1999 SCB also purchased the first larger tape library, namely X200 with a capacity of 12 TB.
The SGI Origin 2000 (combined later with the Onyx2 system to created a 40 CPU parallel system) represented the most powerfull computer installed at Masaryk University (and in fact in the whole Czech academic environment). After 1999, no more funding programs to support supercomputing facilities were available, which created a shortage of funding for supercomputing activities. The only exception was the Program INFRA3, where SCB submitted a project for a National Supercomputing Center; the project was approved, but never realized for administrative reasons. Start of 21st century had seen Czech Republic orienting to clusters, composed from de facto standard servers with Intel or AMD processors.
Since around year 2000, Intel processors became a serious competitor to the MIPS processors, especially when a cost/performance ratio was considered (also, SGI at that time dieced to drop the MIPS division and orient itslef to Intel processors, too). Howeverm the Intel based systems available at that time were almost exclusively uniprocessor based. Also, users started to prefer simple single processor programming model and applications were not tuned to parallel environments; as a result SCB started to provide new computing power through cluster based solutions with Intel processors.
First 16 node cluster used Intel PIII process and was purchased in 2000. The budget came from the CESNET association research intent "High Speed Network for National Research".
The cluster was further extended in 2001 and 2003 (Intel P4 processors).
In years 2002 and 2003, experimental nodes using the Intel Itanium (x64) and IBM Power4+ processors were installed. Both architectures did not find sufficient number of users and the systems were upgraded).
Since 2004 SCB manages clusters funded from a budget of National Center of Biomolecular Research at MU.
In 2005 SCB started to manage new tape linrary NEO8000 with a capacity of 400 TB; that is still used. The library was again funded by CESNET..
In 2006 first multiprocessor systems were purchased, using the AMD Opteron processors. These systems represent a return to the SMP machines that dominated the first phase opf SCB existence. The purchase of these systems was funded by MU and its research intent "Large scale distributed and parallel systems".
MetaCentrum and Grid Phase
In 1996 SCB proposed a MetaCentrum concept, interconnection (and interoperation) of several high performance computing systems through the computer network. Further expansion of this idea and management of the created distributed infrastructure was delegated in 1998 to CESNET, while keeping SCB as the primary collaborator.
Since 2000 SCB staff extensively participates in EU projects DataGrid, series of EGEE I–III projects, EUAsiaGrid project, and recently EMI (middleware development), EGI InSPIRE (grid operations and expansion), and CHAIN (global grid cooperation), all under the CESNET umbrella. This work reached its culmination participating on the definition of conditions for a sustainable European grid infrastructure (EU project EGI Design Study, coordinated by CESNET and lead by prof. Luděk Matyska, CERIT-SC director). SCB itself participated directly in the EU project GridLab and has been part of the EU Network of Ecellence CoreGRID.
The original MetaCentrum concept was thus gradually transformed, in close collaboration with SCB, into a foundations of the National Grid Infrastructure, currently coordinated by CESNET.
Time diagram: projects and hardware installations
Informal information about SCB (in Czech only)
- L. Matyska. Z historie výpočetní techniky na MU. 5. Superpočítače. 2008, roč. XVIII, č. 5, s. 11-15
- L. Hejtmánek, L. Matyska. Distribuované Datové Sklady. 2004, roč. XV, č. 2, s. 1-5
- L. Matyska. Nový přírůstek Superpočítačového centra při Masarykově univerzitě. 1998, roč. IX, č. 1, s. 10-11
- L. Matyska. Superpočítač grond.ics.muni.cz v novém kabátě. 1996, roč. VII, č. 1, s. 3-6