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Syracuse Amps Up Research Computing With Network Upgrade

Syracuse University is amping up its resources for compute-intensive academic research with upgrades to its OrangeGrid and Academic Virtual Hosting Environment (AVHE).

Managed centrally by the university's Information Technology and Services (ITS) department, OrangeGrid taps the processing power of idle desktop computers from campus offices and labs, channeling it into data-intensive research computing operations. Thanks to grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the computing grid now provides more than 10,000 CPU cores to researchers for overnight processing — almost double the processing power available a year ago, according to a university news report. To support the expansion, Syracuse has upgraded its network backbone from 10 Gigabit to 40 Gigabit and increased connectivity from the backbone to campus buildings from 1 Gigabit to 10 Gigabit.

When OrangeGrid's computing resources are not utilized locally, the university uses the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) to contribute the excess to public science projects. For example, Syracuse recently became the largest all-time contributor to Einstein@Home, a group that uses idle desktop computers from the public to search for gravitational-wave emissions from spinning neutron stars. OrangeGrid computing power is also contributing to research in protein folding, malaria research, number factoring, drug molecular modeling and simulation, long timescale dynamics and more.

Syracuse's Academic Virtual Hosting Environment is another research computing tool benefiting from the university's network infrastructure upgrade. Managed by ITS, the AVHE uses idle disaster recovery hardware resources to support smaller-scale research computing tasks in a customized cloud. Researchers can directly control their AVHE computing resources, purchasing compute cycles, memory and disk space within the AVHE as needed.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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