While computers connected to the Internet typically have numbers – called IP addresses — associated with them, collections of these computers, called clusters, usually have names.
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s first effort at computer clusters was known as Baobab.
When UNC was about to launch its next and larger cluster, it needed a name. That’s when the idea of using beaches and lighthouses as a theme came up.
“People who see it might think of North Carolina,” said Ruth Marinshaw, assistant vice chancellor of ITS Research Computing at UNC Chapel Hill.
Emerald, named after Emerald Isle in Carteret County, is a general purpose Linux cluster for scientific and statistical applications.
Topsail, named after Topsail Island in Pender and Onslow counties, is a cluster intended for parallel computing, although single processor runs are also supported.
Kure, named after Kure Beach on Pleasure Island in New Hanover County, is a general purpose Linux cluster for scientific and statistical applications.
Marinshaw said UNC’s newest cluster is named KillDevil, after Kill Devil Hills in Dare County. The town is known for being the site of the first heavier-than-air powered flight. The cluster is a Linux-based computing system available to researchers across the campus.
She said the KillDevil cluster is about twice the size of the Topsail cluster, and about nine times the size of the Kure cluster.
“Solving research problems in many areas, from biology to medicine to genetics to linguistics, requires a tremendous amount of compute power. Clusters are a good way to provide lots of compute cycles to really big problems as well as smaller, but substantial, resources to solve many problems at one time,” Marinshaw said.
Date posted: August 9, 2011
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