Academic supercomputing capabilities expand


Fairbanks, Alaska—Academic supercomputing capabilities at the University of Alaska have expanded under a $1.4 million Major Research Instrumentation grant to the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. The National Science Foundation cyber infrastructure grant will allow ARSC to provide 18 million additional computing hours on Pacman, a supercomputing cluster manufactured by Penguin Computing and used to support the Pacific Area Climate Modeling and Analysis Network.

Cyber infrastructure consists of computing systems, data sources and data storage systems, visualization environments and support staff, all linked by high speed networks to make discoveries and innovations not otherwise possible.Working with UAF's scientists and engineers, ARSC has identified 13 focus areas that areripe for enhancement in a cyberenvironment.The targeted Arctic researchareas cross several disciplines including the mathematical and socialsciences, engineering, biology and climate research. Among the projectscited as a critical need for enhancements under the NSFcyberinfrastructure grant is in life sciences, specifically in the area ofincreased computational capacity for population genetics analyses,increased storage capacity so that researchers can take advantage of NextGeneration Sequencing (NGS) technology, and development of an off-sitedata storage backup strategy.

High-performance computing (HPC) is considered to be the backbone of modern population genetics and phylogenetics, a field in which UAF has gained notoriety in the past decade.Computational requirements for modern biological analyses, especially those used in genomics and evolutionary biology, require large amounts of high-speed data storage and processing power.In some cases, analysis runs can take from weeks to months, and the number of researchers at UAF involved in life sciences research has increased, but the modern computational resources to support them have fallen behind.

CONTACT: Greg Newby, ARSC chief scientist, at 907-450-8663 or Debra Damron, ARSC communications group lead, at 907-450-8662 or .

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