High-Performance Computing

ARL opens up a supercomputer to outside researchers

The Army is reaching out to the academic community to expand its supercomputing power, announcing an alliance with the University of Maryland to boost its research into new scientific discoveries and innovative technologies.

Under the Army Research Laboratory’s Open Campus initiative, ARL’s Harold supercomputer will be connected to UMD’s Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), a 100 gigabits/sec optical network that will allow researchers to build new networks and explore a variety of research opportunities, ARL said in a release.

"The UMD/MAX-ARL partnership provides a unique opportunity for both organizations to create a national model of collaboration in the HPC field," said Tripti Sinha, MAX’s executive director and UMD assistant vice president and chief technology officer. "Collaborative partnerships are key to maximizing our technological potential and ensuring our nation's strength and competitiveness in the critical fields of science and research. UMD and MAX are very excited to work with ARL on this endeavor."

Indeed, partnerships with academia and industry are an important part of the Defense Department’s plans moving forward, whether through the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) based in the Silicon Valley, an East Coast version of DIUx announced in July, or other efforts. Other recent examples include an Army/academic/industry partnership in the Midwest and a five-year cooperative agreement with Drexel University in Philadelphia announced last month.

The high-performance computing, or HPC, agreement with Maryland is intended to benefit the research of both parties by making HPC resources more accessible while hosting initiatives by startup and other private companies, ARL said. "The university is in full support of the federal government's leadership on this critical HPC initiative," said Eric Denna, UMD vice president and CIO. "The creation of the UMD/MAX-ARL partnership is just one step in the promotion of HPC innovation, and UMD will continue to actively participate by contributing technical expertise and sharing knowledge with our key collaborators."

Harold, which went live in October 2009, is an SGI Altix ICE 8200 Linux cluster with 10,752 Intel Xeon 5500 series processor cores designed to provide maximum processing capability while using less code optimization. The supercomputer currently is being scrubbed and declassified so that it can be brought into ARL’s perimeter network for access to higher education and other research communities.

Among the projects Harold will be used for are research into new computing architectures, distributed ad-hoc computing, and programmable networks, said Dr. Raju Namburu, chief of ARL’s Computational Sciences Division. "The result is a unique opportunity for synergistic collaboration between two prominent organizations on the forefront of research and innovation,” he said.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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