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September 29, 2005

NSF awards supercomputing center $52 million

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $52 million over the next five years to support operations of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) as a partner in the TeraGrid, NSF’s program to provide national cyberinfrastructure for education and research. Built over the last four years, the TeraGrid is the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research.

Much as physical infrastructure such as power grids, telephone lines and water systems supports modern lifestyles, cyberinfrastructure makes possible much of modern scientific research. Through network connections, the TeraGrid integrates high-performance computers, data resources and tools, and high-end experimental facilities at eight partner sites around the country.

Within the TeraGrid organization, PSC has leadership responsibility in user services and cybersecurity as well as in capability computing, the ability to tackle the most-demanding computational problems. The supercomputer center also leads the TeraGrid security working group, which guides TeraGrid security policy. PSC has significant national strengths in networking and in biomedical research.

The $52 million award to fund PSC’s operations is part of a five-year, $150 million NSF award — announced last month — to support the eight TeraGrid partner institutions, which, in addition to PSC, are: Argonne National Laboratory/University of Chicago, Indiana University, the National Center for Scientific Applications, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Purdue University, San Diego Supercomputer Center and Texas Advanced Computing Center.

The new award to support PSC’s operations is in addition to the $9.7 million that NSF awarded in 2004 to assist PSC in obtaining its newest, most powerful system, a Cray Inc. XT3, nicknamed Big Ben. Along with PSC’s current terascale system, with a peak operating speed of six teraflops, or six trillion calculations per second, Big Ben (10 teraflops) will be one of the most powerful computing resources on the TeraGrid — which now has a total computing capability that exceeds 60 teraflops.

PSC is a joint effort of Pitt and Carnegie Mellon 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.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 38 Issue 3

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