In July, 2002, OSC officials put the finishing touches on a $1.5 million, 7,040-square-foot expansion called the Blueprint for Advanced Learning Environment, or BALE. OSC deployed more than 50 NVIDIA Quadro™4 900 XGL workstation graphics boards to power the BALE Cluster for volume rendering of graphics applications.
BALE provided an environment for testing and validating the effectiveness of new tools, technologies and systems in a workplace setting, including a theater, conference space and the OSC Interface Lab. BALE Theater featured about 40 computer workstations powered by a visualization cluster. When workstations were not being used in the Theatre, the cluster was used for parallel computation and large scientific data visualization.
Near the end of January 2007, OSC upgraded its BALE Cluster, a distributed/shared memory hybrid system constructed from commodity PC components running the Linux OS. The more powerful system resided in a separate server room from OSC’s on-site training facility, eliminating classroom noise and heat generated from the computers. This improved environment allowed students to run hands-on exercises faster without distractions. The updated cluster boasted 55 rack-mounted compute nodes. Each node contained a dual core AMD Athlon 64 processor integrated with nVIDIA GeForce 6150 graphics processing units (GPU). An application taking full advantage of the system, using all AMD and nVIDIA processing units, could reach one trillion calculations per second.