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Emory, Georgia Tech Team Up on High-Performance Computing Cluster

Researchers at Emory University will be tapping into the increased processing power of a new high-performance computing cluster that will be hosted five miles away on the campus of Georgia Institute of Technology. The cluster, to be named TARDIS, will replace Ellipse, a legacy cluster acquired by Emory in 2007. Ellipse will be phased out by May as work is shifted to the new one.

The name TARDIS comes from Doctor Who, a British TV program. The protagonist in that series uses his TARDIS as a time machine and spacecraft. It has two unique traits: The exterior resembles a London police box, and the inside is larger than the outside. Although the cluster isn't expected to resemble a police box, the metaphor is otherwise apt. The new cluster will take up only a twentieth of the space used by its predecessor, use less energy, and generate less heat, while delivering faster performance and providing more storage with backup.

"The performance advantages will be significant, and the power savings are tremendous," noted Dieter Jaeger, professor of biology and chair of the executive committee for Emory's high performance computing. "In addition, the old cluster was reaching the end of its expected life span and service contracts were running out. Having new hardware, all under warranty, bolsters reliability."

The new server will enable the processing of 20 exomes per hour, "a 60-fold increase in speed," added Michael Zwick, an associate professor of human genetics and scientific director of the Emory Integrated Genomics Core. "This is a dramatic improvement and will allow members of the Emory community to perform larger experiments faster and for less money. We will be a significant user of the new cluster and our computational services will be taking advantage of this exciting new capability."

Georgia Tech's Rich Computer Center will host the cluster in its Partnership for an Advanced Computing Environment (PACE). However, the two sites share a 10 gigabit-per-second connection, making latency negligible.

The new cluster will be dedicated to research performed by Emory people and will be accessible from any lab on the Emory network or remotely through an Emory virtual private network.

"We are very excited to begin this next phase of collaborations between Georgia Tech and Emory, and look forward to strengthening this partnership for years to come," said Neil Bright, chief high performance computing architect at Georgia Tech. The two institutions partner in multiple ways. For example, upper level students have had access to cross-registration, allowing them to sign up for classes at either school.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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