Moscow State University Supercomputing Center

The Supercomputing Center of Moscow State University is currently the most powerful supercomputing center in Russia, including the supercomputer systems "Lomonosov "(1.7 Pflops) and "Lomonosov-2" (4.9 Pflops). More than 2200 scientists, specialists and teachers from 20 university departments, more than 200 scientific and educational organizations of Russia are using the complex for fundamental research. The staff of the Parallel Information Technologies laboratory provides effective support for the MSU supercomputing complex, including technical and system monitoring, updates installation, daily support of supercomputers (technical issues, assistance in supercomputers using, consulting) are constantly carried out. The operation of hardware and system software is also supported.

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Supercomputing Facilities
Computers and Computing in Moscow State University

The history of computers at Moscow State University goes back to the mid-fifties of the 20th century when Research Computing Center of Moscow State University (RCC MSU) was founded in 1955 and equipped with up-to-date computing hardware. This made it possible for university researchers to solve many challenging problems in meteorology, satellite and manned space flights, aerodynamics, structural analysis, mathematical economy, and other fields of science.

In 1956, RCC MSU received its first computer “Strela”. It was the first serially manufactured mainframe in the USSR. “Strela” mainframe functioned with a three-address instruction set capable of implementing approximately 2 000 operations per second. It had a clock cycle of 500 microseconds, RAM of 2 048 words with 43 bits each, energy consumption of 150 KW. The computer
occupied up to 300 m2.

Computer “Setun” was originally designed in RCC MSU. In 1959, RCC launched “Setun” prototype and in 1961 “Setun” started to be manufactured serially. It was an impressive and extraordinary computer, being the first one in the world that was based on ternary, not binary, logic. Trit, having capacity superior to that of a bit, can exist not in two, but in three states: 1, 0, -1. The “Setun” computer took up to 25-30 m2, and required no special cooling. Its frequency was 200 kHz.

In 1961, M-20 computer was installed in RCC MSU. Mainframe M-20 provided 20 000 operations per second. It had ferrite core-based RAM with  capacity of 4 096 words, with external memory stored on drums and magnetic tapes. These common and efficient mainframes had essential influence on the development of computational mathematics in the former Soviet Union.

BESM-6 computer was and is still considered to be of great importance to Russian history of computer development. Designing of BESM-6 was completed in 1967 and its serial production was started in 1968. Same year RCC MSU received its first BESM-6 computer, and despite its serial number 13 it proved to be lucky for the Center. As a result RCC MSU installed its "Setun", 1959 "SCI" cluster, 2000 second BESM-6 computer in 1975, and then the third and the forth ones in 1979. BESM-6 had RAM on ferrite cores capable of storing 32 000 of 50-bit words. This number was later increased up to 128 000 words. The BESM-6 peak performance was one million instructions per second. The computer had about 60 000 transistors and three times more diodes. It had a frequency of 10 MHz, occupied up to 150-200 m2 and consumed 30 KW of energy supply.

RCC MSU has also used mainframes from other series. In 1981, along with four BESM-6 mainframes RCC was equipped with two ES‑1022, two MIR-2 and MINSK-32 computers. In 1984, two-processor ES-1045 was installed. Since 1986, RCC MSU has used a series of minicomputers: SM-3, SM-4 and SM-1420. Between 1955 and the early 1990s, more than 25 mainframe computers of various architecture and performance were installed and actively used at Moscow State University.

Since 1999, Research Computing Center has decided to focus its main attention on cluster supercomputers. The result of this decision wasn’t obvious at that time, but later it has proved to be the right one. The first MSU cluster consisted of 18 compute nodes connected via SCI network. Each node contained two Intel Pentium III/500 MHz processors, 1 GB RAM and a 3.2 GB HDD. The system peak performance was 18 GFlops. Research groups formed around the first cluster started using a new type of technology – parallel computers with distributed memory in order to boost their research.

In 2002, the second cluster with a Fast Ethernet networks for communication and control was installed. With a total number of 88 processors, it had peak performance of 82 GFlops. In 2004, a new Hewlett-Packard cluster with 160 AMD Opteron 2.2 GHz processors and a new InfiniBand network was delivered to MSU. Its peak performance exceeded 700 GFlops. By that time, more than 50  research groups from MSU, Russian Academy of Sciences and other Russian universities had become active users of MSU supercomputing facilities. Constantly growing demand for HPC resources resulted in two new installations in 2008: 60/42 TFlops "Chebyshev" by MSU, T-Platforms, PSI RAS and Intel, and 27.9/23.9 TFlops IBM Blue Gene/P.

Now Moscow State University Supercomputing Center exploits substantially “Lomonosov” and “Lomonosov-2” supercomputers, at the same time several machines of smaller scale are available. The MSU HPC flagship is 4.9 PFlops “Lomonosov-2” supercomputer. Its already built infrastructure allows further supercomputer upgrades and expansion. Taking the supercomputing road about 20 years ago, Moscow State University Supercomputing Center is planning to move forward to exaflops and further in the future.