IU Boots Up New Supercomputer

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Indiana University says it will use a new supercomputing cluster to help researchers secure grants to fund discoveries and create jobs in the state. The computer is named Karst and will be accessible to anyone at IU. October 3, 2014

News Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new supercomputing cluster at Indiana University will help researchers secure federal grants to fund discoveries, create jobs in the state, and keep sensitive data safe from cybersecurity threats.

Karst is a high throughput computing cluster that will be accessible to anyone at IU – faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students, and departments. High throughput computing delivers large amounts of processing capacity over long periods of time, which is ideal for researchers in fields like physics, polar research, and drug discovery. As a smaller companion to IU’s Big Red II supercomputer, Karst will be used mostly for computing jobs that take just a few processors, not the very large jobs that run on Big Red II.

"IU takes a fundamentally different approach to IT and research than most other universities because our supercomputers and large clusters are available to everyone, student or faculty, without usage fees," said David Hancock, manager of IU’s high performance systems. "Our goal is always to securely support students in their academic endeavors while helping faculty members leverage IU’s IT resources to win grants and make progress in their academic areas."

Karst will be online in November. The new system replaces Quarry, IU’s soon-to-be-retired Linux cluster computing environment for research and research instruction. During its seven-year run, Quarry has been used for 6,362,872 jobs and 50,966,344 core hours. Researchers using Quarry have secured $365,419,648 in total grant award dollars. Karst is expected to be just as important to the IU community – in fact, the system will be vital to IU’s plan for Cyber Risk Mitigation, enacted in 2013 to reduce cyber risks and safeguard digital information.

Karst will deliver three types of services:

-High throughput computing – continuing IU investment in the sort of facilities that helped the physics community verify the existence of the Higgs Boson, a fundamental particle. This functionality will replace the current functionality of the aging Quarry cluster and be accessible to anyone at IU.

-Condominium computing – providing a way to cost-effectively add nodes to a shared computing environment. Schools, departments and researchers can fund computational nodes and have access to those nodes for their research. When not in use by their owners, these nodes are available to the IU community – maximizing value to the university and reducing electricity to unused clusters.

-Dedicated nodes (node-level colocation) – providing a way for departments to host one or more nodes entirely dedicated to departmental use within the Karst physical, electrical and network framework. This provides 24/7 dedicated nodes for departmental use, while leveraging the security and energy efficiency of the IU Data Center as well as the basic network and physical components of Karst.

"Karst is an important addition to IU’s scholarly cyberinfrastructure because it provides an effective solution for researchers who need their own cluster," said Craig Stewart, IU associate dean of research technologies. "With Karst, IU researchers can purchase a subset of the system for their dedicated use, or participate in a community 'condo' model that will permit higher priority and access to additional resources. Researchers reap the benefits of having their equipment located in the Data Center, managed by UITS expert systems administrators, with 24/7 monitoring. Karst offers this hosting at a much greater scale than ever before to the IU community," he said.

Source: Indiana University