OSC to launch Cardinal, major new supercomputing cluster, in 2024

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb 20, 2024) — 

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) will launch a major new high performance computing (HPC) cluster, Cardinal, in the second half of 2024. The Dell Technologies-based cluster will support the growing need for HPC resources in Ohio for research, education and industry innovation, especially in the area of artificial intelligence (AI).

Cardinal, named in honor of the state bird of Ohio, reflects the state’s ongoing commitment, supported by the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), to ensure that Ohio academic and industry researchers can access the most advanced technologies in supercomputing.

“OSC has experienced exponential growth in use over the last few years, and the new cluster will help Ohio meet and exceed the demands coming from our colleges and universities as well as the private sector,” said David Hudak, executive director of OSC. “With this new technology, we can empower the rising number of disciplines using HPC for research and innovation, foster the expanded use of AI and machine learning, and serve the growing number of higher education classrooms using OSC resources to train the next-generation workforce.”

Scientific, engineering and biomedical fields have embraced the use of AI and machine learning to solve research questions. More academic disciplines—including areas such as farm sciences, architecture and social studies—are adopting these tools as well. Cardinal will feature the latest hardware that can handle this growing AI workload, Hudak said.

Franta Bartik, OSC Data Center Technician, working on test nodes for the Cardinal Cluster.
Franta Bartik, Ohio Supercomputer Center data center technician, works on test nodes for the Cardinal cluster, slated for launch later in 2024. 

In addition, the cluster will help OSC support the rising number of faculty and students in Ohio who are using OSC’s virtual computer laboratory services to fulfill classroom assignments.

“It’s critical to offer our higher education institutions cutting-edge technologies that support faculty success in research and educational experiences that prepare our students to excel in the workforce,” said ODHE Chancellor Mike Duffey. “OSC’s new Cardinal cluster is a major leap forward that will ensure that Ohio remains internationally competitive in high performance computing and AI innovation.”

Cardinal is a collaboration between OSC and Dell Technologies, Intel and NVIDIA and features the latest technologies from these vendors. In both capabilities and capacity, the new cluster will be a substantial upgrade from the system it will replace, the Owens cluster launched in 2016.

The Cardinal cluster is a heterogeneous system featuring Dell PowerEdge servers and the Intel® Xeon® CPU Max Series with high bandwidth memory (HBM) as the foundation to efficiently manage memory-bound HPC and AI workloads while fostering programmability, portability and ecosystem adoption. The system also will have 128 GB HBM2e and 512 GB of DDR5 memory per node. Cardinal will feature 756 Max Series CPU 9470 processors, which will provide 39,312 total CPU cores. With a single software stack and traditional programming models on the x86 base, the cluster will more than double OSC’s capabilities while addressing broadening use cases and allowing for easy adoption and deployment.  
Thirty-two nodes will have 104 cores, 1 TB of memory and four NVIDIA Hopper architecture-based NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs with 94 GB HBM2e memory interconnected by four NVLink connections. NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand also provides 400 Gbps of networking performance with low latency to deliver 500 petaflops of peak AI performance (FP8 Tensor Core, with sparsity) for large, AI-driven scientific applications. Sixteen nodes will have 104 cores, 128 GB HBM2e and 2 TB DDR5 memory for large symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) style jobs.

With Cardinal, OSC will be one of the first HPC centers to deploy HBM technology on a large scale. The new cluster will feature Intel chips with HBM, which will provide greater computing performance. In addition, Cardinal will utilize NVIDIA Magnum IO GPUDirect Remote Direct Memory Access, which will allow clients to more effectively utilize the cluster’s GPUs, especially for AI workloads.  

“Combining the computing power of Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers with the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s sophisticated approach to discovery will help the next generation of researchers and scientists solve tough questions across disciplines using AI, ML and HPC,” said Dave Lincoln, vice president of Compute Systems, Dell Technologies. “The Cardinal cluster will be a valuable addition to OSC’s resources, helping to ensure these critical technologies are accessible for Ohioans.”

Cardinal test node
Test nodes for the Ohio Supercomputer Center’s Cardinal, a new Dell Technologies-based cluster slated to launch in 2024.

“The Intel Xeon CPU Max Series is an optimal choice for developing and implementing HPC and AI workloads, leveraging the most widely adopted AI frameworks and libraries,” said Ogi Brkic, vice president and general manager of Data Center AI Solutions product line at Intel. “The inherent heterogeneity of this system will empower OSC’s engineers, researchers and scientists, enabling them to fully exploit the doubled memory bandwidth performance it offers. We take pride in supporting OSC and our ecosystem with solutions that significantly expedite the analysis of existing and future data for their targeted focus areas.”

“NVIDIA’s accelerated computing platform provides the groundbreaking performance academic supercomputer centers such as OSC require to run AI applications across a variety of fields,” said John Josephakis, global vice president of business development for HPC and supercomputing at NVIDIA. “The new Cardinal cluster with NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs and NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand networking will help the state of Ohio stay at the forefront of innovation and meet the growing demand for HPC and AI resources.”

Cardinal will join OSC’s existing clusters Pitzer (2018, expanded in 2020) and Ascend (2022) on the OSC data center floor at the State of Ohio Computer Center. The Owens cluster will remain in service for three months after Cardinal starts production.

Client Testimonials


“Our lab has been conducting AI research and developing novel AI technologies, including deep learning approaches, generative AI methods and large language models, for various applications in biomedicine. These technologies require large-scale, high performance computing facilities. Without OSC’s computing resources such as Ascend’s NVIDIA A100 GPUs, our research would never have been possible. For example, we leveraged OSC’s GPUs to accelerate drug discovery and drug design. We are excited about the future AI research, innovation and education that OSC will enable in our lab and beyond.”

Xia Ning, professor, College of Medicine and College of Engineering, The Ohio State University

“Over the last 15 years, OSC has made a tremendous impact on our business, as we are wholly dependent on HPC to do what we do. We’ve used several of the clusters and data storage services, including the newest GPU hardware and software upgrades. We’re excited about the HBM on the Intel chips coming to Cardinal and what enhancements that will bring to our work. OSC is always looking ahead to find the next best computing solution and has been at the forefront of HPC, not only in the nation but in the world. That gives us a great advantage in the state of Ohio.”

Ray Leto, president of TotalSim, Dublin, Ohio

About OSC: The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) addresses the rising computational demands of academic and industrial research communities by providing a robust shared infrastructure and proven expertise in advanced modeling, simulation and analysis. OSC empowers scientists with the services essential to making extraordinary discoveries and innovations, partners with businesses and industry to leverage computational science as a competitive force in the global knowledge economy and leads efforts to equip the workforce with the key technology skills required for 21st century jobs.