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September 29, 2011

Marshall Scores “BigGreen” GPU Cluster

Nicole Hemsoth

Researchers at Marshall University in the United States are set to receive a new GPU-powered cluster that will allow them to make further advances in bioinformatics, climate research, physics computational chemistry and engineering.

Nicknamed “BigGreen” the cluster will boast “276 central processing unit cores, 552 gigabytes of memory and more than 10 terabytes of storage.” This, coupled with the eight NVIDIA Tesla GPUs with 448 cores each will push BigGreen into the six teraflop range—and will allow the university’s researchers to explore new areas aided by simulation and parallel computation capabilities.

This new cluster comes about following a round of NSF funding under the “Cyberinfrastructure for Transformational Scientific Discovery in West Virginia and Arkansas (CI-TRAIN) program. This is a project that seeks to advance the IT capabilities of the two states’ institutions to build more robust nanoscience and geosciences research programs in particular.

As Dr. Jan I. Fox, Marshall’s senior vice president for information technology said in a statement this week, “For example, a 3-D scan of Michelangelo’s statue ‘David’ contains billions of raw data points. Rendering all that data into a 3-D model would be nearly impossible on a desktop computer,” she said. “Using our high-performance computing capabilities, a student or professor could run that same data and produce the model in just a fraction of the time. It will literally change the way we work and do research at Marshall University.”

Fox went on to note that “the new cluster is critical to assisting researchers with their diverse objectives. He noted that this addition “makes possible scholarly innovation and discoveries that were, until recently, possible only at the most prestigious research institutions,” she said. “Along with our connection to Internet2, our students and faculty now have access to computing power, data and information we could only imagine just a few years ago.”

Full story at Marshall University