High-Performance Computing | News

U Maryland Upgrades High Performance Computing Capabilities

Researchers at the University of Maryland are getting a computer upgrade. The computing cluster that's been in place since 2006 is being replaced with a new Dell-powered cluster that's 10 times more powerful. DeepThought2, successor to DeepThought, will be housed at the university's Cyberinfrastructure Center.

The technical specifications for the new high-performance computing resource was developed jointly by campus IT and a team of faculty researchers, with "significant" contributions from the College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences, the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences and the School of Engineering.

Deepthought2 has 9,200 CPUs for raw computation, 200,000 graphical processing units for specialized processing, such as visualization, and four large memory nodes for data-intensive and serial/threaded applications. The new cluster has a petabyte of directly attached storage, is interconnected by means of a 56 gigabit InfiniBand network and connects to campus users via a 10 GB fiber link. The processing speed is thought to be about 300 teraflops.

Deepthought2 is housed in the university's M Square Research Park in a 9,000-square-foot data facility. The same facility, which has been upgraded to house the new equipment, also is used for IT hardware colocation by college and departmental IT units and researchers.

"With more than five times the performance and ten times the capacity of the existing cluster, Deepthought2 will allow us to carry out simulations that previously could only be run on national supercomputers, such as high-resolution models of structure formation in the universe or simulations of particles colliding in Saturn's rings," said Derek Richardson, a professor of Astronomy. "This in turn will bring in new grant money to fund the science enabled by such a powerful local facility."

According to Ann Wylie, a professor and interim vice president for IT, the new cluster is intended to support research projects that are both "diverse and complex." The institution generates about $500 million annually in external research funding, with nearly 1,500 faculty receiving awards.

"This new supercomputer will allow hundreds of university faculty, staff and students to pursue a broad range of research computing activities locally — such as multi-level simulations, big data analysis and large-scale computations — that previously could only be run on national supercomputers," said Wylie.

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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