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Sao Paulo University Taps Sun Technology for Computing Cluster

Sao Paulo University (UNESP) has chosen Sun Microsystems technology to power the largest computing cluster in Latin America, which will span across seven different sites in São Paulo State. The UNESP Computer Capacity Integration (GridUNESP) compute cluster will provide processing and data storage capacity for research in particle physics, genetics, meteorology, medicine, and other areas of scientific investigation.

The central cluster of systems, which will be installed at the new UNESP campus in Barra Funda, Sao Paulo, will have 2,048 processing nuclei and a compute capacity of 23.2 TFlops. The complete system, which is made up of the central cluster and seven others, will total 33.32 TFlops. GridUNESP will have a high speed connection to the North American Internet2 by means of the MetroSampa Network, which inter-connects educational, cultural and research institutions in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, and also to the Open Science Grid, which integrates computer resources in 50 sites around the world.

"Sun was selected as it showed the best technical expertise and the best price from the bids submitted," said GridUNESP's general coordinator, Sérgio Ferraz Novaes, professor of the Theoretical Physics Institute (IFT) at UNESP.

According to Novaes, the project will deal with research areas that require processing, analysis and storage of a large amount of data, such as genetic sequencing, weather forecasting, molecular and cellular modeling, reconstruction of medical images, development of new materials, quantum chemistry, large-scale numerical simulations and high energy physics, among others.

The cost of the project, US$3.1 million, was financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The computational infrastructure, which consists of a central cluster and seven other secondary clusters, will be spread among seven campuses.

"A network that interconnects the principal processing and data storage centers in the University will allow an equitable distribution of these resources, allowing virtually everybody to access a computational infrastructure that would be unavailable or extremely unbalanced if set up another way," said Novaes.

"The progress of our research will be helped in terms of speed of calculation and availability of memory. It will also facilitate interaction between the different theoretical research groups," said Elson Longo, professor of the Institute of Chemistry at the Araraquara campus, and also coordinator of the Multidisciplinary Centre for Ceramic Material Development.

GridUNESP will give the University the capacity to integrate major international projects in the area of grid computing, according to Gastão Krein, director of IFT, at the São Paulo campus. For physician Ney Lemke, of the Institute of Bioscience at the Botucatu campus, studies in the areas of biology and medical physics will be greatly enhanced. "With the computing capacity of GridUNESP, research calculation times will be reduced, which will allow us to carry out more detailed studies at a faster pace."

For Adriano Mauro Cansian, coordinator of the Safety Research Laboratory of the Institute of Biosciences, Arts and Exact Sciences, at the São José do Rio Preto campus, the project to detect attacks on large-scale computer network infrastructure, on which he works with his team, will benefit from the processing and data storage capacity. "We also believe that the grid will allow more flexible processing in carrying out the analyses that are intended to detect attacks in real time."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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