Courtesy of the University

Cornell’s Center for Advanced Computing will be partnering with universities around the country on a supercomputer research project funded by the National Science Foundation.

September 23, 2018

Cornell Researchers Receive $1 Million Funding for Supercomputer Project

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Cornell’s Center for Advanced Computing has been chosen to provide training and documentation materials for Frontera, which will become one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world when it is deployed.

Frontera, which is currently being built and is expected to be deployed in 2019, will be made up of large systems that allow scientists to perform their analyses on “complex simulations,” according to Richard Knepper, deputy director of the CAC.

The Frontera project, which has a $60-million budget from the National Science Foundation, involves participation from universities from across the country, such as California Institute of Technology, Princeton University and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where the supercomputer will be deployed.

If completed today, Frontera would be the fifth most powerful system in the world, the third fastest in the U.S. and the largest at any university, according to a report published by the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

The supercomputer is expected to be used for used for “physics, molecular dynamics and genomic analyses — things that require a lot of computational power and that cannot be explored in the lab or field,” according to Knepper.

Cornell’s research team, which will receive $1 million from the NSF, includes consultants from the physics, astronomy, genetics and information technology departments who will research “different systems and applications of the Frontera supercomputer.”

In particular, Cornell’s CAC is responsible for providing training and documentation materials to help users start the system — something that “requires special training,” according to Knepper. The money will go to Virtual Training Workshops, courses that allow students and staff members to “asynchronously learn the supercomputer’s different systems.”

“[The staff] is our greatest resource,” Keppner said. “We couldn’t just buy a bunch of machines and have it work out — we need to have the expertise.”

In order to use Frontera, staff members from any university can write and submit a proposal for a research project. Once the proposal is approved, students who are working with the staff member can use the supercomputer hands on.

“The NSF wants to give researchers more power,” Knepper said. “Our part of it as Cornell and the CAC is to be the entryway. It furthers our role as Cornell within this broader supercomputing community so that we can take on more projects and work with more folks who are getting started.”