Institute for CyberScience upgrades research cyberinfrastructure

Julian Fung
May 24, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) has completed a major upgrade of its Advanced CyberInfrastructure (ICS-ACI), Penn State’s high-performance research cloud. The upgrade efforts involved adding new computing capabilities and migrating computing hardware from Penn State’s 1960s-era Computer Building to a newly built, state-of-the art data center facility.

The migration process began on May 8 and involved collaboration between ICS’s infrastructure team and Penn State Data Center Services. “We’ve been striving to improve ICS-ACI so that Penn State researchers can do their work as efficiently as possible,” said ICS-ACI Technical Director and Chief Architect Chuck Gilbert. “We aim to become one of the leading high-performance computing centers in the nation. This move is a step toward that goal.”

ICS-ACI currently comprises 23,000 processing cores and 20 petabytes (20 million gigabytes) of storage. The system allows Penn State researchers to perform complex calculations and simulations that might take a single-core machine months to complete. Its total theoretical peak performance, 650 teraflops (floating-point operations per second), is several thousand times faster than a high-end desktop workstation.

Prior to the upgrade, ICS maintained 6,000 computing cores in Computer Building, housing the rest of its equipment in the new data center. Now that all the hardware is in one physical location and connected with the same network architecture, the performance of ICS-ACI should improve.

In addition to the migration, the upgrade will provide researchers access to new computing technologies, including long-term archival data storage and research-optimized Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) that should dramatically accelerate certain types of calculations.

ICS-ACI will also benefit from the new data center’s state-of-the-art features, including advanced monitoring systems to detect hardware failures and cyberattacks and energy-efficient power and cooling systems. Data will be backed up to the University Technology Center at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“I thank the ICS staff and our partners at Data Center Services for their hard work in completing this transition,” said ICS Director Jenni Evans. “I look forward to the transformative research that these new ICS-ACI capabilities and services will enable.”

As one of five interdisciplinary research institutes under the Office of the Vice President for Research, ICS 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 CyberInfrastructure. With the support of ICS, Penn State researchers harness the power of big data, big simulation, and big computing to solve the world’s problems. For more information, visit or email

  • A technician works on installing ICS-ACI hardware

    A technician works on installing migrated ICS-ACI hardware in the new data center.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • An equipment rack for ICS-ACI hardware

    One of the equipment racks in the new data center that house ICS-ACI equipment.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • Technicians moving ICS-ACI equipment out of Computer Building

    Technicians remove ICS-ACI equipment from Computer Building as part of the hardware migration to the new data center.

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated May 24, 2017