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March 5, 2014

Centaurus Energy Donates IBM Supercomputer to NSU

Thomas Ayres

Centaurus Energy has donated an IBM supercomputer nicknamed “Megalodon” to Nova Southeastern University. Megalodon is an IBM P6 supercomputing cluster composed of 32 nodes that each have 16 POWER CPU’s with 256 GB of RAM. Each CPU contains two processor units and has about 790 million transistors as well. Megalodon is also water-cooled and uses internal chilled plates and a rear-cooling door on each rack.

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To house the new system, NSU plans on building a brand new, $80 million research facility that will also be home to a team of accomplished researchers.

“This new multidisciplinary center will provide our world-class team of researchers with the tools they need to continue to make discoveries that will impact the way we all live,” said NSU President George L. Hanbury, Ph.D. “From developing new cancer treatments to finding new methods for environmental sustainability, the possibilities are endless.

What’s interesting is where the donation of that IBM system came from. Why did Centaurus Energy, a partially defunct hedge fund from Houston, Texas, donate a supercomputer to a relatively small Florida university? The facts are still vague but according to a NSU press release, “Following a long standing relationship between NSU and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), including USGS’s current location on NSU’s main campus, it is intended that USGS will occupy the entire first floor of the CCR. The USGS and NSU will partner on collaborative inter-disciplinary research involving greater Everglades restoration efforts, hydrology and water resources, and more.” While we are only making that connection based on the donation’s source, it seemed worthy of pointing out that in addition to other university research, there may be some energy-based angles here that helped drive the donation.

The Megalodon supercomputer will be used mainly to assist the school in their research efforts. These efforts include hundreds of projects that deal with cancer treatments to environmental sustainability. In addition to research, students will be able to receive training that will help to prepare them for careers upon graduation.

“This supercomputer allows researchers to create more accurate models of complex processes, simulate problems once thought impossible to solve, and analyze increasing amounts of data generated by experiments in weeks or months, rather than the years required by conventional computers,” said Eric S. Ackerman, Ph.D., dean of NSU’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences.

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