Syracuse University awarded $791,000 to build supercomputer

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The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Syracuse University (SU) in New York $791,000 to build a supercomputer. The computer cluster will be housed in SU’s new Green Data Center on South Campus, and the university’s College of Arts and Sciences will contribute an additional $339,000 to the project.

The supercomputer will provide resources for scientists involved with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), located in Hanford and Livingston; and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The cluster will be one of three, LIGO Scientific Collaborations (LSC) Tier 2 computing centres worldwide dedicated to gravitational-wave astronomy.

LIGO Tier 2 centres are also located at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at the Albert Einstein Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam and Hannover, Germany. Together with the LIGO Laboratory’s Tier 1 centre, these computers provide the computational power needed to search for gravitational waves from distant objects in the universe.

‘LIGO is now undergoing a major upgrade and SU physicists are playing a leading role in the project,’ said Duncan Brown, assistant professor of physics in The College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator for the supercomputer project. ‘The Advanced LIGO detectors will enable us to see at least a thousand times more of the universe than the original detectors. The supercomputer project will provide vital technologies for analysing the data.’

Joining Brown on the supercomputer project are co-principal investigators Tomasz Skwarnicki, professor of physics, and Christopher Sedore, SU’s vice president for information technology/CIO. The supercomputer will be a 2,500 CPU-core cluster with 388 Tbytes of storage connected via gigabit Ethernet. SUGAR, a smaller supercomputer Brown built several years ago, will be integrated into the new computer, providing an additional 320 CPU cores and 96 Tbytes of storage. Brown anticipates the cluster will be completed by summer 2011.