Tech Times

Winter 2012

Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center Officially Opened

On Friday, November 16, 2012, the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) officially opened for business. Governor Deval Patrick led the celebration, joined by researchers, educators, and industry officials from throughout the region. 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 University and The University of Massachusetts. 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; 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

Information Services & Technology will offer several computing service models and programs at MGHPCC. These offerings provide researchers with a full spectrum of computing options ranging from University-wide, fully-shared resources to dedicated, individually owned and operated machines. In most case the systems are centrally managed by Scientific Computing and Visualization (SCV) staff within IS&T; in all cases the physical infrastructure –- space, power, cooling, and core networking –- is provided by the University without charge-back to individual researchers or research groups.

  • The shared service model applies to equipment which is acquired with a significant University contribution, either fully funded centrally or under an institutional-level infrastructure grant leveraged by substantial matching funds. These computing resources are offered without charge to all faculty and research staff on a fair-share allocation basis. Allocations are reviewed by a committee of faculty and staff. The University currently maintains an IBM Blue Gene and a Linux cluster as shared services. At MGHPCC, the University will provide:
    • An upgraded Linux cluster, providing access for members of both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus
    • A new GPU cluster in close collaboration with the College of Engineering
  • The Buy-in program allows researchers to acquire additional, standardized hardware to support their individual research projects. The additional resources are integrated into the shared facility and managed centrally by the SCV group. The owners of the equipment are given priority access while any excess capacity is returned to the pool for general, shared use. The owners of the equipment determine the access and queuing policies for their portion of the facility. All other standard services are provided without charge. Existing Buy-in resources will be moved to MGHPCC, with additional Buy-in resources deployed at MGHPCC as well. More information about the Buy-in program is available on TechWeb.
  • Dedicated service is provided for systems that are non-standard or otherwise cannot be shared through the Buy-in model due to their specialized computing requirements. The systems are acquired under individual research grants, but are hosted and managed centrally by the SCV staff. Physical infrastructure is provided without charge, but equipment, systems administration, software licenses and other direct costs are paid directly by the researcher. Usage policies and software stacks are specified by the owner. SCV currently maintains dedicated systems for the ATLAS group which will be moved to MGHPCC in 2013.
  • Co-location (co-lo) is a new stand-alone service that will be provided at MGHPCC. The University provides only rack space, power, cooling and a base (1GigE) network connection. The owner is responsible for all of the costs of the system: hardware, software, systems administration and maintenance, including time and material cost for operational support (remote hands) provided by/through the MGHPCC.

Additional information about MGHPCC is available on TechWeb.

Selected press coverage of the MGHPCC ribbon-cutting event: