U Illinois Urbana-Champaign To Establish Experimental Computing Cluster

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is collaborating with the National Science Foundation, HP, Intel, and Yahoo! to establish an experimental computing cluster. The resulting "HP, Intel, Yahoo! Cloud Computing Test Bed" will be managed by UIUC and made available to academic users from other institutions for research in data-intensive computing.

The cluster is part of NSF's Cluster Exploratory initiative (CluE) that launched back in April through NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. Through the program, NSF is providing some of the funding needed to establish the new experimental cluster. UIUC and Yahoo! are also funding the project, while HP is providing discounts on hardware, and Intel is donating processors for the effort.

"This effort will differ markedly from existing experimental clusters," said UIUC computer science professor Michael Heath, in a statement released last week. He's one of three research handling the project at the university. "With previous efforts focused on networking or user-level applications, the gaping need to process and respond to large amounts of data has been inadequately addressed. Our effort will go deep into the system software stack to explore new and better ways to provide system-level support for data-intensive computing."

According to NSF, "Data-intensive computing arises from the confluence of many societal and technological factors. The broad availability of data coupled with increased capabilities and decreased costs of both storage and computing technologies has led to a rethinking of how we solve problems that were previously impractical to solve. Such data-intensive computing is at the forefront of ultra-large-scale commercial data processing, and industry has taken the lead in creating data-centers comprised of myriad servers storing petabytes of data to support their business objectives and to provide services at Internet-scale. The UIUC award establishes a partnership between NSF, University of Illinois, HP, Intel and Yahoo! that will provide CISE researchers a platform to conduct systems-level research in support of data-intensive computing."

According to information released by NSF, the center at UIUC will be one of six centers of excellence being established by HP, Intel, and Yahoo! internationally "to help foster research in data-intensive computing." Centers will each manage clusters of 1,000 to 4,000 processor cores for that purpose, according to NSF.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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