Cornell Buys A 64-Bit Computer - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Hardware & Infrastructure
12:09 AM

Cornell Buys A 64-Bit Computer

University's research institute shifts from Dell servers to a big Wintel machine from Unisys

Cornell University researchers need large amounts of computing power to do their work. Some of the data sets its researchers work with are larger than 2 Gbytes, too much for its 32-bit Intel-based servers to handle quickly. So the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research decided to introduce 64-bit computing.

But rather than adding new 64-bit two- or four-way servers, the institute opted for one large Intel- based server that could accommodate both 32-bit and 64-bit apps. The research institute next month will deploy a Unisys ES7000 Orion 560 running Windows Server 2003, Data Center Edition, which has 16 32-bit Intel Xeon MP processors and eight 64-bit Itanium 2 processors. It will replace a dozen 4-year-old Dell PowerEdge servers.

"If I can manage everything through one box, why would I manage it through 12 boxes?" asks Janet Heslop, the institute's computing systems manager.

More than 500 research-institute users use statistical-analysis apps, and Heslop considered installing a cluster of smaller Intel-based servers. But "clustering works better when you have a few users running huge workloads," she says. "We have many users with smaller jobs."

Cornell in 1981 established the research institute to provide the school's social scientists with, among other things, access to data archives and statistical-analysis software. The researchers use a spectrum of data, including federal or state censuses, files derived from administrative records, and public-opinion surveys, along with economic and social data from a variety of organizations.

The research institute wants to stay with Windows so it can continue to run software from Aptech Systems, SAS Institute, and others through Microsoft Terminal Services. "For our users, that means a whole bunch, because training is easier in the Windows environment," Heslop says. "Our users are just trying to do research; they're not as computer literate as an engineer would be." The Windows environment also is consistent with other computing facilities on the university's campus, including Cornell's Theory Center.

The move to 64-bit Itanium processors also lets the research institute give users access to SAS 9.0, in addition to the 8.2 version already running in the 32-bit environment. "The big appeal to this is that we can serve such a wide range of users," says Carol Murphree, the research institute's computing consulting-services manager. "Some jobs are much better suited for Xeon and don't need the overhead of a 64-bit processor." In fact, migrating the entire IT environment to 64-bit processors would have slowed down less CPU- or memory-intensive apps.

For the institute, the 24-way ES7000, which costs $225,000, also marks a move back to a consolidated server architecture. Until 1999, the institute ran its apps on a Unix-based IBM RS/6000 server. The institute moved to a Windows-Intel environment when a cost analysis indicated that such a migration would be cheaper than buying the necessary RS/6000 memory upgrades.

The conversion to the ES7000 is good news for Unisys, which wants to use its stable hardware business as the foundation for its growing services business. For the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, Unisys saw year-to-year increases in services and hardware. Services revenue was up 11% to $1.1 billion, while hardware sales increased 3% to $325 million.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Becoming a Self-Taught Cybersecurity Pro
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  6/9/2021
Ancestry's DevOps Strategy to Control Its CI/CD Pipeline
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  6/4/2021
IT Leadership: 10 Ways to Unleash Enterprise Innovation
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  6/8/2021
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll