Purdue receives funds to upgrade datacenter

September 16, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University has received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to upgrade and improve the university's research datacenter, which houses campus supercomputers.

Purdue's datacenter is home to some of the nation's best campus research computer resources for scientific discovery, with two internationally ranked supercomputers, as ranked by www.Top500.org. A third supercomputer, which is named "Rossmann," after Purdue structural biologist Michael Rossmann, was built on Sept. 1 and also is expected to rank in the world's top 500 supercomputers.

Purdue's on-campus supercomputer use increased from 628,000 hours in 2000 to 57.4 million hours in 2008 to 127 million hours in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. With the addition of the Rossmann cluster computer, Purdue expects to deliver more than 200 million supercomputing hours to its faculty in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Seven of Purdue's 10 colleges make use of the campus supercomputing resources. Research done on the computers includes work in the areas of atmospheric chemistry and climate change, energy engineering, high-performance electronics nanotechnology, particle physics, and genetics.

John Campbell, associate vice president for academic technologies, said the demand for centrally supported research computing is expected to continue its rapid increase, noting that Purdue received a record $438 million in external research funding in the past fiscal year, which ended July 1. This was a $96 million increase over the previous fiscal year.

"This infrastructure improvement will allow the institution to meet the ongoing needs of our growing faculty research," Campbell said. "We are planning to add new community cluster supercomputers in 2011 and 2012 to meet the demand of our faculty, and this grant will allow us to have a facility that can support that amount of computing power."

The funding will be used to install two new electrical transformers, which will meet the additional power and cooling demands of the new supercomputers, as well as provide redundant power to the facility; currently a loss of power to the facility represents 400,000 hours of lost computing time per day.

In addition to the power improvements, the facility's chilled water-cooling system also will be upgraded.

In 2008 an external review of Purdue's computing infrastructure by the datacenter engineering consulting firm EYP Mission Critical Facilities recommended significant upgrades to Purdue's facility. However, the report also stated that "Purdue's extensive capability to share research computing systems throughout the Purdue University environment is the best implementation of research systems utilization that EYP-MCF has seen to date."

In addition to supporting campus research activities, the Purdue datacenter also provides computing support to the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid, the Open Science Grid and the Purdue-led DiaGrid.

Writer: Steve Tally, 765-494-9809, tally@purdue.edu

Source: John Campbell, 765-494-1289, john-campbell@purdue.edu

Related websites:
Purdue's Rosen Center for Advanced Computing

HP EYP-Mission Critical Facilities