High Performance Computing for Research

Sept. 19, 2023

The three “cats” that provide high performance computing for researchers at the university are each more than three years old and are very busy. And there’s a new cat on the way.

Chris Reidy Power Computing

It will soon join the computing power the offerings of Puma, Ocelote and El Gato, said Chris Reidy, Research Facilitation Manager, Research and Discovery Technologies. Reidy described the offerings and power of our feline-named supercomputers housed in a secure and temperature-controlled room at the Computer Center, and talked about the future of HPC during the recent IT Summit.

“Imagine having 7,500 laptops all stacked up, rows and columns. And they are all working together, all efficient and all working 24-hours, seven-days a week producing scientific research and data.” Reidy said. “Each of the computer nodes isn’t super-fantastic. But together as a system it produces an incredible amount of compute capacity.”

But this a yet-to-be-named “New Cat” is needed because of the growing consumption of data, a broadening of HPC use from more colleges across campus and the rise of AI.

Reidy also showed there are more principal investigators using HPC and the wide variety of applications that are run through the supercomputers. He also noted in his presentation that there is a round of training available around machine learning, HPC and other workshops. To demonstrate the impact of what is provided to researchers on campus, Reidy said each principal investigator has 100,000 CPU hours per month on Puma, and there are about 290 active PIs per month. If all that research activity was done on Amazon’s similar service, it would cost about $1,450,000 a month.

Before exploring the HPC refresh, Reidy’s team surveyed researchers to find out what they wanted. The result was more of everything, he said. More cores, more memory, and an increased time limit. They also asked for more attached storage, more training, more support, and shorter wait times for jobs. He pledged to work closely with researchers to help meet their computing and storage needs.


The process for selecting the “New Cat” is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. Check back for updates on the HPC and when its name is revealed.


Here’s Reidy’s complete presentation from the IT Summit. And you can more from Research and Discovery Technologies on their homepage.


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