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U Nevada Las Vegas Takes Delivery of TOP500-Ranked Supercomputer

An Intel-built supercomputer that ranks on the TOP500 and Green500 lists has arrived in Las Vegas from Oregon, where it will serve the needs of researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). The 48-node, two-rack "Cherry Creek" supercomputer was built to show off Intel hardware at the 2013 Supercomputing Conference in Denver. Now the computer will live at Switch Supernap, a state-of-the-art colocation data center founded by U Nevada Trustee Rob Roy.

The university expects to use Cherry Creek for research in areas such as genomics and bioinformatics, medical and climate research, molecular modeling and data analytics. A portion of the computer's processing power will also be used for private sector research through a partnership between UNLV and Switch.

"Supercomputers have become an indispensable part of almost every industry. For university researchers, they've increased the speed of analysis and discovery exponentially," said UNLV President Donald Snyder. "Working together with Intel and Switch, UNLV has a tremendous opportunity not only to keep pace with but to play a leading role in big data research and economic development partnerships that require high-performance computing."

Now that the relationship has been forged, Intel is committing to participating in university activities as well, such as guest lectures and other academic programming.

This isn't the first supercomputer the university has had access to. Since 1991 the institution has run the National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment (NSCEE). That facility is run by Executive Director Joseph Lombardo, who, according to coverage in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, wrote the proposal that persuaded Intel to give the computer to the university.

The new system includes components and design elements not just from Intel but also from Bright Computing, CoolIT Systems, Micron Technology and Supermicro. When all pistons are running, it's capable of processing data about seven times faster than UNLV's supercomputing center currently allows.

Although Switch will host the machinery, UNLV staff will maintain and optimize Cherry Creek, schedule computing resources among UNLV and partner researchers and update the supercomputer as new technology becomes available.

"Having access to this technology will enhance and expand UNLV's current research programs and will act as a catalyst for new emerging research interests such as big data analytics," said Lombardo. "Additionally, having this special resource will enhance the educational experience for a diverse set of top-quality graduate and undergraduate students while playing an important role in faculty recruitment."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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