Good Chemistry: Breaking New Ground in Science with HPC

Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ) becomes a research center of excellence and maximizes returns on investment using high performance computing infrastructure.

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Dell EMC

In a world of ever-bigger datasets, great science often requires great high performance computing systems. This is the way it is at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ).

ICIQ is one of seven research centers of excellence in Catalonia, Spain, and part of the scientific foundation for the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology. ICIQ is committed to performing excellent research at the frontier of knowledge in two main areas: catalysis (using a catalyst to accelerate chemical reactions) and renewable energy. The institute also focuses on transferring knowledge and technology to the chemical, pharmaceutical and energy industrial sectors and training the future generation of scientists.

To carry out its mission, and to drive pioneering projects in chemistry and renewable energy, ICIQ needs lots of HPC horsepower. And each year, the demands for HPC resources grow, putting the institute’s HPC team under even greater pressure to deliver more processing power.

ICIQ meets these demands via a long-running partnership with Dell EMC. As a Dell EMC case study explains, for the last eight years, ICIQ has scaled its HPC with Dell EMC server technology. Today, ICIQ’s HPC infrastructure is supported by 500 Dell EMC servers, including PowerEdge C series servers, which run a virtualized part of the infrastructure, and the latest-generation Dell EMC PowerEdge R440 machines with Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors to support the HPC workloads. The infrastructure also includes Dell EMC PowerVault MD storage arrays and Dell EMC Networking switches.

Beyond highly reliable data center technology, ICIQ looks to Dell EMC for time-saving management tools and responsive expert services, according to Martin Gumbau, HPC manager at ICIQ.  “We always consider server solutions from multiple vendors, but we choose Dell EMC because we gain direct support from sales teams and technicians,” Gumbau says in the case study.

Some of the ways Dell EMC services and support offerings are helping ICIQ keep its systems up and running to support its research program include

  • Boosting uptime with automation: To simplify HPC server management, ICIQ uses Dell OpenManage Systems Management. “We find that Dell OpenManage saves us time because we no longer need someone to manually oversee the servers. The management console does it automatically, alerting us to server issues and providing detailed reports on server performance. It helps us maximize uptime,” Gumbau says.
  • Saving time with remote server administration: Gumbau and his colleagues use integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) to remotely access the servers. “We save time on daily maintenance tasks because we don’t have to visit the HPC room and physically touch the servers, thanks to iDRAC,” he says.
  • Optimizing returns with expert assistance: To help optimize the performance of the servers, ICIQ uses Dell ProSupport. “We have five-year ProSupport on our servers, and it ensures we get five years of great returns out of the machines,” Gumbau says. “Dell ProSupport consistently provides fast and effective assistance.”

All of this adds up to business value. It has helped ICIQ become a scientific center of excellence while meeting the growing need for HPC processing power and increasing returns on the institute’s HPC investments. And that’s good chemistry.

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