Clemson to complete $1 million upgrade of Palmetto HPC Cluster

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Amy Apon, center, stands with her team next to the Palmetto Cluster supercomputer.

A $1-million upgrade to Clemson University’s Palmetto Cluster is expected to help researchers quicken the pace of scientific discovery and technological innovation in a broad range of fields, from developing new medicines to creating advanced materials.

Currently, Palmetto is comprised of 2021 compute nodes (totalling 23072 CPU cores), and features:

  • 2021 compute nodes, totalling 23,072 cores
  • 386 nodes equipped with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs: 280 nodes with NVIDIA K20 GPUs (2 per node), 106 nodes with NVIDIA K40 GPUs (2 per node)

New hardware that could be in place as early as spring will add even more power to the Palmetto Cluster. Even before the upgrade, it rated eighth in the nation among academic supercomputers, according to the twice-annual TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful computers.

The upgrade is funded by the National Science Foundation and will support more than 370 faculty members and students who are working on a broad range of research topics with more than $14 million in funding.

Supercomputers are increasingly important because they allow researchers to solve complex, mathematically intensive problems in a relatively short period of time.

A problem that might take 10 days on a conventional computer could take a few minutes on a supercomputer,” said Amy Apon, chair of the Division of Computer Science in the School of Computing.

Apon played a leading role in securing the funding for the Palmetto Cluster’s upgrade, serving as principal investigator on the grant. It’s the second $1 million grant in five years that Apon has helped Clemson land through the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation Program.

Clemson has a history of providing high-performance computing resources,” she said. “We’ve been doing this now for more than a decade, but these resources are expensive and have to be renewed every three to five years. It is time for a refresh.

“This most recent grant provides Clemson the resources it needs to continue offering the high-performance computing on which our researchers have come to depend.”

Researchers plan to use the upgrade to strengthen relationships with industry and broaden collaborations in the state, including one with Claflin University. The upgrade will also enhance the development of new curricula in computational and data-enabled science and engineering.


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