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Magnifying research: Scientists team together to upgrade supercomputer
Date:10/18/2011

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- A group of Kansas State University scientists is boosting research across campus by making the largest supercomputer in the state even larger. The project also will benefit researchers at other schools in Kansas.

The scientists, led by Daniel Andresen, associate professor of computing and information sciences, have recently received a three-year $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Major Research Instrumentation Program to upgrade the university's research computing cluster, called Beocat. The scientists also received $300,000 in matching funds from the university.

Beocat is a cluster of servers that provides computational support for large research projects and is located in the university's computing and information sciences department in the College of Engineering. The cluster's design type is called Beowulf, so the designers called the university's form Beocat in honor of the Kansas State University Wildcats .

Beocat supports research in four colleges and 12 to 15 departments across campus, and the upgrade will at least double its research capacities. While the average desktop or laptop has between two and four cores in its central processing unit, Beocat has 1,200 cores. It also has 10 machines that each have 64 gigabytes of memory -- much more than the average two to four gigabytes that come with a desktop or laptop. The upgrade will give Beocat individual machines with 512 gigabytes to a terabyte of memory and more than 2,000 total cores.

"That's like 1,500 laptops stacked up or 1,000 desktops stacked up and working together," Andresen said.

The extra memory will be especially helpful for some of the larger research projects across campus. For example, it takes about 50 gigabytes of space to analyze a single genome. A group of biologists on campus wants to analyze 5,000 genomes -- a huge computing task that requires a lot of memory. But an upgraded Beocat will be able to han
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Contact: Daniel Andresen
dan@k-state.edu
785-532-6350
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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