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Penguin Computing Powers Chinook Cluster at University of Alaska Fairbanks

UAFLogo_A_647Today Penguin Computing announced that it is delivering an energy-efficient, HPC cluster to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

This community, condo model project launches a significant change in how high-performance computing resources are offered to the UA community,” said Gwendolyn Bryson, manager of Research Computing Systems at the UAF Geophysical Institute. “Chinook is more capable, more flexible and more efficient than our current resources.”

The new cluster, based on Penguin Computing’s Relion server family was first delivered in April 2016 and has been incrementally expanding throughout the year. The cluster was named Chinook in honor of deceased UAF employee Kevin Engle, who was known for his passion for salmon and Alaska. Engle was a research programmer and ground station manager at UAF’s Geographic Information Network of Alaska.

“The UA research and scientific community is undertaking critical challenges that not only impact the state, but have broader national and international implications,” said Tom Coull, President and CEO, Penguin Computing. “Having a state-of-the-art cluster will place UA in the best possible position to realize successful outcomes in these important endeavors.”

The Chinook’s capabilities can be used by anyone in the UA system. The condo model allows for incremental expansion of shared infrastructure and encourages researchers to purchase shares that give them priority access to a resource beyond what they might procure individually.

The cluster may help researchers solve questions about climatic variability in Alaska and compute more accurate estimates of ice loss and sea level rises with higher-resolution ice sheet modeling. Chinook could also be used for research in bioinformatics, biogeochemical modeling, and studies involving the analysis of radio signals passing through the ionosphere.

Chinook will be used by UA researchers and collaborators. The cluster is in the UA Butrovich Data Center, an environmentally controlled office space on the Fairbanks’ campus. The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust partnered with the Geophysical Institute, UAF vice chancellor of research, UAF International Arctic Research Center and UAF IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence to expand Chinook. A $415,000 grant, along with an equal match from the university, is funding the project.

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