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New supercomputer to advance UofL’s research

February 19th, 2009


The Cardinal Research Cluster

Members of the University of Louisville community celebrated on Feb. 19 a milestone in the university’s research mission — the recent “powering up” of the most-powerful academic high performance computing system in Kentucky.

The supercomputer, nicknamed the Cardinal Research Cluster (CRC), has a peak speed of more than 25 teraflops (trillion calculations per second), roughly 1,100 times faster than today’s average desktop computer.

UofL researchers will use the computer to, among other things, help solve complex problems in areas such as cancer research, materials science, atmospheric modeling, visualization and bioinformatics. It also can be used for research outside the sciences.

An information technology team from the university and IBM technicians powered up the system in late January. It should be fully operational by late March. When it is, they expect that CRC will rank among the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world.

“As a premier metropolitan research university, it’s important that we have the best support for our faculty, students and staff,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “We have phenomenal research taking place here in health sciences and other areas. This supercomputer will help us take our research to the next level.”

The university’s decision to buy the supercomputer was a joint effort of the offices of Research and Information Technology. To make sure the computer would meet UofL’s present and future needs, more than a dozen UofL researchers collaborated during the selection and installation process.

“This computer infrastructure represents leading edge technology,” said Priscilla Hancock, vice president for information technology and chief information officer. It allows UofL for the first time to “consolidate our research data, giving us the computing environment we need to work more collaboratively.”

The CRC is an IBM iDataPlex cluster-style supercomputer with 100 terabytes of usable space and 5.2 terabytes of memory.

It cost $2.1 million. Of that price, $600,000 came from IT’s lease of unused university clear-wire communications channels. The remainder came from research grant funding in the Office of Research.

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