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NIH Awards $1.3 Million to Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

PITTSBURGH, February 19, 2003 — The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has received an award of $1.3 million from the National Institutes of Health to advance research in biology and medicine. This award, from NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), will provide for computational resources to support the work of several world-leading, biomedical research teams.

Through the NIH grant, PSC will acquire, install and operate a "shared-memory" computing system with advanced processor technologies, a very large memory capacity and associated storage. It will be based on the newest generation of Hewlett-Packard AlphaServer systems, the GS1280, announced in January.

The new system will be dedicated to serve the biomedical research community nationwide.

"Such a shared memory, high-performance system is not now available to biomedical researchers," said Marjorie A. Tingle, director of the Shared Instrumentation Grant Program at NCRR. "This new resource will enable them to study particularly demanding data-intensive, memory-intensive and compute-intensive problems that are currently beyond reach."

The new system will complement LeMieux, PSC's 3,000-processor terascale computing system — the most powerful system in the United States committed solely to public research.

"The memory structure of this NIH system," said PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies in a joint statement, "will significantly advance a large class of important applications in biomedical research, including protein simulations and genome sequencing."

Part of the new system will be dedicated to four world-leading research teams in the diverse biomedical fields of genomics (Eric Lander, Jill Mesirov et al at Whitehead Institute), structural biology (Klaus Schulten, University of Illinois), chemical biology (Michael Klein, University of Pennsylvania) and neuroscience (Terence Sejnowski, Thomas Bartol of The Salk Institute with Joel Stiles, PSC).

While the NIH system will provide less total processing power than LeMieux, it will give researchers access to an exceptional memory capability. Unlike LeMieux, in which the memory is distributed over 750 processing nodes, the shared-memory architecture of the NIH system will allow each processor equal access to all of the memory available on the entire system, which has compelling advantages for many scientific applications.

Furthermore, the processors in the new system, HP's new EV7 Alphas, have exceptional "memory bandwidth" — the speed at which data is transferred between the processor hardware and random access memory. Benchmark tests have demonstrated that the EV7 memory bandwidth is five to ten times greater than comparable products.

Since 1987, when PSC became the first computing center outside of NIH to receive NIH support, PSC's biomedical group has developed technologies in computational science and worked closely with leading scientists in biology and medicine to solve important problems in the life sciences. Through this program, PSC has provided computing resources to nearly 1,000 biomedical research projects involving over 2,200 researchers in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh together with the Westinghouse Electric Company. It was established in 1986 and is supported by several federal agencies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and private industry.


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Michael Schneider
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

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