Supercomputing power grows at OSU BY JA M I E H A DW I N
PHOTO COURTESY ADVANCED CLUSTERING TECHNOLOGIES
High performance computing (HPC) became a national priority with the issuance of a 2015 executive order to create a federal strategy for HPC research, development and deployment through the National Strategic Computing Initiative. Luckily for Oklahoma State University, it is already ahead of the HPC curve. Not only has OSU emerged over the last decade as a leader in national HPC community building efforts, but the university is also preparing to install a new supercomputer named Pistol Pete.
The OSU supercomputer Cowboy at the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC). Cowboy will soon be joined by new supercomputer Pistol Pete.
OSU’s High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) facilitates a wide range of advanced computing research services to researchers throughout the state, including a series of progressively more powerful supercomputers. OSU’s current supercomputer, Cowboy, was funded by a 2011 National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant, making it, at the time, the largest externally funded supercomputer in the state. Today, installation of the Pistol Pete supercomputer is underway following a second NSF MRI grant awarded in 2015. HPCC staff are busy working with construction teams to remodel a new data center to house the supercomputer system, which should be operational later this year. “In computer years Cowboy is old,” says Dana Brunson, OSU assistant vice president for research cyberinfrastructure and director of the HPCC. “Cowboy can do 48 trillion calculations per second. I expect us to be able to increase that four times (with Pistol Pete) and provide more than ten times the data storage.” High performance computing systems meet the emerging demands of a diverse and growing community of computational and data-driven researchers. One field experiencing a critical need for HPC is bioinformatics, which finds itself analyzing increasingly larger and complex biological datasets. When HPCC hired bioinformatics specialist Brian Couger in 2015, it was a welcome relief for OSU’s bioinformatics researchers. “There’s been a tremendous uptick in researchers from a variety of disciplines that need advanced computing and data resources,” Brunson says. Another example of research aided by high performance computing is the work of OSU computational chemist Chris Fennell, who studies large-scale
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