Tech Times

Summer 2012

Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center Construction

Construction of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) is currently underway, on schedule to be available for use in early 2013. The MGHPCC is designed to support the growing scientific and engineering computing needs at five of the most research-intensive universities in Massachusetts – Boston University, Harvard University, MIT, Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts research universities are world leaders in computational research for physical science, life science, engineering, computer science and many other disciplines. Until now this research has taken place within individual universities and has been limited by the capacity of their respective campuses. The MGHPCC consortium goals include nurturing innovative HPC-related research among the five institutions, maximizing the impact of the facility on current research and supporting new collaborations that the facility will make possible. Seed grants have been given to seven multi-institutional projects, three of which include Boston University researchers. The consortium also aims to coordinate the development and submission of large, joint proposals for acquiring state-of-the-art research infrastructure. The MGHPCC provides a path to grow university research computing significantly beyond what is possible in the Commonwealth and in New England today.

The computing infrastructure in the MGHPCC facility includes 33,000 square feet of computer room space optimized for high performance computing systems, a 15MW power feed, and a high efficiency cooling plant that can support up to 10MW of computing load. The on-site substation includes provisions for expansion to 30MW and the MGHPCC owns an 8.6 acre site, leaving substantial space for the addition of new floor space. The communication infrastructure includes a dark fiber loop that passes through Boston and New York City and connects to the NoX, the regional education and research network aggregation point. Boston University initially will have a pair of 10 GigE connections from its campus to its resources located in the Holyoke facility.

IS&T will install a new shared research computing resource, the next generation of the Katana Linux cluster and shared storage system, in the MGHPCC. This resource will be available to the Boston University community free of charge on a fair share basis. A new Buy-in program allows researchers to purchase additional computing resources which are integrated into the shared cluster, but priority scheduled for use by the owner. Additional opportunities are available for faculty that wish to site their own equipment in the new data center, managed either by IS&T staff or by themselves. More information about these options is available on the MGHPCC TechWeb page.

The MGHPCC will be a world-class, high performance computing center with an emphasis on green, sustainable computing. The green components of the project range from the use of clean, sustainable electric generation to power the data center to fostering research collaborations in energy, climate and the environment. The development of this center is creating unprecedented opportunities for collaboration between research, government, and business in Massachusetts.