The Brazos Cluster at Texas A&M University

Brazos, a major computing cluster at Texas A&M University, is designed to meet the high-throughput computing needs of A&M's computational scientists and engineers. Though capable of executing modest MPI applications, Brazos is optimized for handling large numbers of single-node computations. This form of computing is referred to as high-throughput or capacity computing.

The computing power of Brazos comes from 309 computing nodes, with processors ranging from quad core Intel Xeon (Harpertown) and AMD Opteron (Shanghai), to 8-core AMD Opteron (Bulldozer) and 14-core Intel Xeon (Broadwell) with 16GB to 128GB. Total peak performance is about 33.4 TFlops with a total of 10.9TB of RAM.

Access to Brazos is via a login nodes load balanced using round-robin DNS. User home directories are supported by a 5TB NFS file system. Data storage is supported using BeeGFS on a 294TB storage array running on 7 storage nodes. Operating software for Brazos includes the Linux operating system, GNU and Intel compilers, SLURM batch scheduler, several MPI and linear algebra packages, and numerous applications.

The compute nodes and servers of Brazos are connected internally via a modular switch, with Gigabit Ethernet connections to each compute node and 10GbE connections to the login node and the data fileservers. The login nodes are connected to the Science DMZ network with 10GbE. The networking fabric for a large portion of the Brazos cluster is DDR Infiniband.

Funding for Brazos comes primarily from participating stakeholders, faculty from several (initially four) colleges. In addition to managing Brazos, the Academy itself also functions as a stakeholder. The initial stakeholders were:

Additional funding from the Vice President for Research supported base infrastructure (e.g., racks and file servers). Support from CIS provides 10GbE networking to the campus network and other operational support such as machine room space, electrical power, and air conditioning. As new stakeholders join and as existing stakeholders increase their contributions, we expect the capacity of Brazos to grow.

Funding sources include: the National Science Foundation, including awards CBET-0736202, DEB-0730616, and DMS-0922866; the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; Texas A&M University, including the Office of the Vice President for Research, Computer Access Fees, and faculty from the Colleges of Science, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, and Geosciences; Texas AgriLife Research; and Texas Engineering Experiment Station.

The Brazos Cluster is supervised by the Brazos Architecture and Oversight Committee. Members are Dr. Michael Hall, Dr. Steve Johnson, and Dr. Lisa Perez.