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PSC Receives NSF Award for Bridges Supercomputer

imgresThis week the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center announced that it has received a National Science Foundation award to create a uniquely capable supercomputer designed to empower new research communities, bring desktop convenience to supercomputing, expand campus access and help researchers needing to tackle vast data to work more intuitively. Called Bridges, the new supercomputer will consist of three tiered, memory-intensive resources to serve a wide variety of scientists, including those new to supercomputing and without specialized programming skills.

Bridges will offer new computational capabilities to researchers working in diverse, data-intensive fields such as genomics, the social sciences and the humanities. A $9.65-million NSF grant will fund the acquisition, to begin in October 2015, with a target production date of January 2016. The system will be architected and delivered by HP and will feature advanced technology from Intel and NVIDIA.

The name Bridges stems from three computational needs the system will fill for the research community,” says Nick Nystrom, PSC director of strategic applications and principal investigator in the project. “Foremost, Bridges will bring supercomputing to nontraditional users and research communities. Second, its data-intensive architecture will allow high-performance computing to be applied effectively to big data. Third, it will bridge supercomputing to university campuses to ease access and provide burst capability.”

Bridges will feature multiple nodes with as much as 12 terabytes each of shared memory, equivalent to unifying the RAM in 1,536 high-end notebook computers. This will enable it to handle the largest memory-intensive problems in important research areas such as genome sequence assembly, machine learning and cybersecurity.

First and foremost, Bridges is about enabling researchers who’ve outgrown their own computers and campus computing clusters to graduate to supercomputing with a minimum of additional effort,” says Ralph Roskies, PSC scientific director and professor of physics, University of Pittsburgh. “We expect it to empower researchers to focus on their science more than the computing.”

PSC will hold a launch event for Bridges in January 2016.

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