UNH to Acquire Supercomputing
Contact: David Sims
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Dec. 8, 2004
DURHAM, N.H. -- The Institute for the study of Earth, Oceans, and
Space at the University of New Hampshire has announced that Microway
Inc. of Plymouth, Mass., has been awarded the contract to supply
a supercomputing cluster for space, atmospheric, and Earth systems
research at the university.
A leading manufacturer of custom-configured Linux Beowulf Clusters,
Microway was selected because it offered the best designed and best
priced solution for the university’s specific needs.
The supercomputing system will be used by EOS researchers to simulate
processes in space plasmas, to model the spread of pollutants through
New England's air and their influence on climate, and to model Earth's
"The acquisition of the cluster will enable us to open new
frontiers in the study of Earth's space environment,” said
space physicist Joachim (Jimmy) Raeder of EOS’s Space Science
Center (SSC) and Department of Physics.
Raeder, who has led the UNH effort to acquire the cluster, noted
that UNH now joins the ranks of a handful of universities in the
country with this kind of supercomputing ability. Not only will
this greatly enhance research capabilities but it will also help
to attract students.
Berrien Moore III, director of EOS, said, "In the past, high-end
supercomputing was confined to national labs and supercomputer centers
because the cost of these computers, which ran into the tens of
millions of dollars, was out of the reach of smaller research institutes.
Now, companies like Microway can tie relatively inexpensive node
designs together to make extremely powerful, affordable machines."
Whereas a typical desktop PC can perform about one billion operations
per second, the cluster will be able to perform more than one trillion
operations per second or about 1,000 times as fast as an ordinary
PC. Even with such enormous computer power, many of the space, atmosphere,
and Earth models used by researchers still require several days
to run to completion.
Paul Professor of Space Science Amitava Bhattacharjee, who specializes
in the simulation of space plasmas, noted that the new computer
will make it possible to “do our work using our high-performance
codes without waiting in agonizingly long queues at national supercomputing
centers."A supercomputing cluster such as this can reduce the
time needed to do complex mathematical computations from weeks to
The purchase of the cluster was made possible by grants from the
National Science Foundation through its Major Research Instrumentation
Program, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) for the joint NOAA-UNH Atmospheric Investigation, Regional
Modeling, Analysis and Prediction (AIRMAP) program.
AIRMAP’s primary mission is to develop a detailed understanding
of climate variability and the source of persistent air pollutants
in New England. EOS provided additional resources.
AIRMAP director Robert Talbot, whose group will be a major user
of the cluster for three-dimensional simulations of atmospheric
transport, chemistry, and climate, said, "The cluster will
allow us to conduct these studies on time scales of seasons to decades.”
This capability will spark new insight into the climate-chemistry
connection on regional to global scales, and put AIRMAP on the forefront
of research in this area.
Ann Fried, chairperson of Microway commented, "We are gratified
that the Institute chose us to manufacture and install this important
cluster. We expect it will be a leader in the top performing Linux
clusters used for research in space, atmospheric, and Earth systems."
Jimmy Raeder may be reached at (603) 862-3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Fried may be reached at (508) 732-5555 or email@example.com.