High-performance computing services for researchers set to expand

Julian Fung
October 03, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Institute for CyberScience (ICS) has announced enhancements to the high-performance computing services offered through its Advanced Cyber Infrastructure (ICS-ACI). The expansion of ICS-ACI will take place throughout the fall semester.

Once the enhancements are complete, ICS-ACI will operate 23,000 compute cores and 20 petabytes (PB) of storage, and will offer a range of new features to its users. These resources will enable Penn State researchers to analyze huge datasets, run massive simulations, use high-resolution imaging data, and perform other compute-intensive tasks that would take weeks or even months to run on a normal workstation.

Based on faculty input, an ultra-fast graphics processing unit (GPU) compute environment, basic-memory computing cores, and archival storage with data encryption are being added to the ICS-ACI suite of offerings. Basic compute will be cheaper to use than the existing standard-memory cores, and the archival storage will keep data secure in the long term.

“Penn State is enhancing its state-of-the-art research cyberinfrastructure to strategically expand its position as one of the world’s leading research universities,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas Jones. “The new ICS-ACI resources will position our faculty to compete for grants and continue to make pioneering discoveries.”

Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey echoed Jones’s sentiments. “The growth of ICS-ACI is key to Penn State’s research infrastructure and will surely enable continued success as one the nation’s top 20 research universities,” said Sharkey. “These significant enhancements to high-performance computing constitute a big step forward for both interdisciplinary and domain-specific research at this University.”

In the process of the current expansion deployment, ICS-ACI hardware will be moved into the newly built Tower Road Data Center. The center, which cost $60 million to build, features state-of-the-art technologies to power, cool, monitor and protect the compute resources.

Penn State’s research leadership is enhancing high-performance computing support to Penn State researchers through ACI Funds for Research (AFR), reducing the effective cost of ICS-ACI. For instance, a researcher purchasing time on basic cores will effectively pay only $4 per core per month from his or her own research funds. A full list of charges for the compute and storage options coming online is posted at https://ics.psu.edu/advanced-cyberinfrastructure/access-models/great/great-details/

“While we are expanding and diversifying high-performance computing capabilities at Penn State, AFR also makes these resources as affordable as possible,” said Jenni Evans, interim director of ICS. “We are grateful that the University’s administration is dedicated to supporting cyber-enabled research.”

The Institute for CyberScience is one of the five interdisciplinary research institutes under the Office of the Vice President for Research, and is dedicated to supporting cyber-enabled research across the disciplines. ICS builds an active community of researchers using computational methods in a wide range of fields through co-hiring of tenure-track faculty, providing seed funding for ambitious computational research projects, and offering access to high-performance computing resources through its Advanced Cyber Infrastructure. With the support of ICS, Penn State researchers harness the power of big data, big simulation, and big compute to solve the world’s problems. For more information, visit https://ics.psu.edu or email ics@psu.edu.  

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Last Updated April 21, 2017