The Distributed ASCI Supercomputer 3

DAS-3 History

The first DAS system, which we now refer to as DAS-1, consisted of four cluster computers connected by a wide-area ATM network. The clusters were located at four different ASCI universities, but were used and managed as a single integrated distributed system. DAS-1 has been operational from mid 1997 to the end of 2001.

The successor system DAS-2 has been operational since January 2002 and consists of five clusters, located at five ASCI universities (Vrije Universiteit, University of Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology, Leiden University, University of Utrecht), connected by the Dutch national research network SURFnet. DAS-2 consists of 200 dual-CPU nodes (1GHz Pentium-IIIs). The system was built by IBM and the operating system the DAS-2 runs is RedHat Linux. The system will be discontinued in the course of 2007.

DAS-1 cluster at Vrije Universiteit (1997)
DAS-2 cluster at Vrije Universiteit (2002)

Both DAS-1 and DAS-2 were designed as homogeneous systems, to allow meaningful performance experiments, stimulate research collaborations, and to ease systems administration. All clusters use the same operating system (Linux), CPU (Intel) and local interconnect (Myrinet), and differ only in configuration parameters like the number of CPUs and the size of the local memory and disk.

Both DAS-1 and DAS-2 have been used by many researchers from ASCI, often in collaborative projects. The amount of research, publications, and Ph.D. theses performed with these systems has increased dramatically over the years. Also, there has been a clear shift from local cluster computing (on one cluster) to large-scale distributed computing (using the whole wide-area system) and subsequently to Grid computing. DAS-2 has also been clearly positioned in the national computer Grid infrastructure through the NCF Grid project. NCF (Dutch National Computer Facilities) has invested 650,000 Euro to extend the DAS-2 system into a Grid that could be used by application scientists outside ASCI to experiment with Grid applications.

Several recent developments have drastically increased the need for a new, up-to-date wide-area infrastructure. The desire to request a new system thus largely comes from the success of the earlier DAS systems and from the demand of major new research projects that need an infrastructure for large-scale distributed computing and Grid computing. In addition, there of course are many technological advances that make a new system essential, such as 64 bit processors, faster buses (e.g., PCI Express), 10 Gbit/s and DWDM-capable networks, and larger memories and disks. This is why we carry out DAS-3.