C-Level View :: April 12, 2006

Worth Noting

Super Means Serving More

Indiana University announced this month that it will acquire what university spokespeople believe will be the fastest university-owned supercomputer in the U.S. (or 3rd in the world for universities). It is capable of performing more than 20.4 trillion numerical operations per second. They’ll pair it with more than 1 petabyte of high-speed disk storage, and an additional petabyte of tape. New Force10 4x10GigE switching will connect their Bloomington and Indy machine rooms. The 20.4TF (teraFLOPS) supercomputer based on IBM's JS21 technology will easily place Indiana┬╣s new arrival in the TOP500 list, probably in the 20 th position of elite supercomputers worldwide.

Michael A. McRobbie, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at IU Bloomington reflected on the plan. “These systems will provide IU’s scientists and researchers with the best cyber infrastructure at any university in the U.S., if not worldwide.” The acquisitions are key to research funding strategies, as well as to IT strategic plans at IU. McRobbie added, “This new computer and other cyber infrastructure expansions are essential to IU’s success in obtaining large grants from many programs in the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Endowment for the Humanities, and other funding sources.”

Major funding comes from the Indiana Metabolomics and Cytomics Initiative, or METACyt, which is funded by a $53 million grant from the Lilly Endowment and from the National Science Foundation. While the investments represent a big first step in IU’s new Life Sciences Strategic Plan, there is a lot of supercomputing power to be spread among numerous disciplines, leveraging a services model for advanced research computing. A few of the broad discipline areas to be served include astronomy, informatics, computational physics, and the humanities. The system will also connect to global research networks.

New Research Tool for Academia

Microsoft announced Tuesday the beta release of a its new Windows Live Academic Search, a research tool that combines advanced search techniques with the resources of leading content providers to help researchers, students, and faculty conduct literature searches across a range of academic and scholarly publications. This first release will feature computer science, electrical engineering, and physics content from the ACM, IEEE, and selected publishers including Reed Elsevier and Wiley & Sons. The program is a collaborative effort of Microsoft, CrossRef ( a nonprofit dedicated to cross-publisher citation linking) and more than a dozen key publishers and societies.

An important goal of Windows Live Academic Search is to provide an innovative interface for searching through thousands of resources. A few notable search and display features include: a “mouse-over” preview pane, citation support in two major bibliographic formats, author hyperlinks, RSS for topical and author updates, direct links to online published versions, and various sort functions. The beta service is available at Windows Live Academic Search in English for the U.S., UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Australia. Additional markets and content will be added throughout the beta period.

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