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Building Sweden's most powerful computer, Monolith

There is a lot of logistics involved in building a supercomputer. The new cluster, Monolith, consists of over 200 PC computers.

Storing the components forced our vendor, Advanced Computer Technology, to temporarily acquire extra warehouse space. Extra ACT staff has been assembling the cluster nodes before repackaging them and shipping them to NSC, where the staff has been busy unpacking the nodes, rack mounting them and performing delivery testing.

From time to time, the corridors at NSC have been all but blocked by newly arrived boxes and discarded packing material. Just what do you do with that amount of styrofoam?

When the hardware has been checked out, the nodes are connected to a 100 Mbps administrative ethernet network and installed using SystemImager.

After installing all cabling, work on tuning the high performance SCI network commences. Dedicated storage and compilation nodes are added. Finally, LINPACK tests are run to get official performance figures.

When completed, the new cluster will be the most powerful computer in Sweden, and will be a major source of computing power for scientists for years to come.


  Jun 28, 2002 The first nodes are delivered and subjected to a number of tests.
  September, 2002 The delivery rate is accelerating. Temp staff is hired for unpacking and rack mounting the nodes as they are delivered.
Sep 18, 2002 The racks are all but filled. Still a few yellow post-it notes, denoting nodes with hardware anomalies.
  Sep 19, 2002 The final nodes are delivered and installed into their rack slots.
Sep 23, 2002 Operating system installation started. Photo: one node pulled out for inspection.
Sep 26, 2002 Vendor starts to install SCI network.
Oct 3, 2002 Cabling for SCI network all installed. The ironing out of the inevitable wrinkles is in full progress.
  Oct 24, 2002 Grand inauguration ceremony. Monolith is now officially operational, and will enter a short shake-down period with appointed "test pilot" users before full scale production starts.
  Nov 15, 2002 Monolith is placed at number 51 on the TOP 500 Supercomputer Sites listing, number 14 in Europe and number 2 in the Nordic countries. It is also the second largest self-made system.
  Nov 27, 2002 First users on Monolith.
  Dec 18, 2002 A large storage area was installed.
  January 27, 2003 The Monolith cluster was opened for full scale service.

Further information on Monolith is available on another page.


The theoretical peak performance of Monolith is 1.8 Tflops, and so far we have obtained 1.132 Tflops with LINPACK.

Whats in a Name?

  • is a single great stone often in the form of an obelisk or column.
  • is a massive structure.
  • is an organized whole that acts as a single unified powerful and/or influential force.
  • is an important item in the Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction classic movie 2001: A Space Odessey.
  • has the last letters identical to the official abbreviation LiTH for the technical faculty in Linköping.

Page last modified: 2005-01-27 11:17
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