OSU given money to develop a new supercomputer

STILLWATER, Okla. — The National Sciences Foundation is chipping in $4 million dollars to help Oklahoma State University (OSU) researchers develop a new supercomputer.

OSU is putting $1.7 million of its own money toward the project but the grant itself is one of the largest ever given for a project like this.

The supercomputer will be housed at the OSU-Stillwater campus and process huge amounts of data at once. It will be the largest supercomputer in Oklahoma and several nearby states. The new technology will elevate the research capabilities of the state and the nation and make OSU the leader in supercomputing for the Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas (OAK) region.

“OSU has long provided high-performance research computing to our faculty and students, driving OSU accomplishments in big data analytics, genomics and other key arenas,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research. “The increased capabilities this grant will create allow us to expand our leadership to the entire region, multiplying our impact.”

OSU’s current supercomputer, aptly named “Pete”, serves more than 1,600 users from various institutions in Oklahoma.

Dr. Pratul Agarwal, director of High-Performance Computer Cluster (HPCC) explains this supercomputer will enable researchers to tackle tough problems in agriculture, human and animal health, and fundamental research as well as help in educating students.

“The reason supercomputers are important is that a lot of new research discoveries are now being driven by data analysis,” Agarwal said. “The volume of data which has been collected is tremendous. And we need resources that can analyze this amount of data, which is beyond a laptop and even beyond a group of computers.”

Researchers also need a resource that can analyze the data as it’s being generated, Agarwal said.

“You don’t want to be in a situation where the data is being generated in a day, and it takes several months to process it, because then you keep on falling behind,” he said. “So you need the right scale of computing to be able to keep up with research and discoveries.

The OSU-led proposal was a joint effort between OSU, Arkansas State University, Wichita State University, Kansas State University, the University of Tulsa, the University of Central Oklahoma, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Great Plains Network.