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ITaP taking orders for new research supercomputing cluster and individual systems

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Orders for nodes in the new Coates community cluster are now being taken by Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP).

This also is an opportunity for departments or individuals purchasing computing equipment for use outside the cluster to take advantage of big price breaks available in a group purchase, said John Campbell, associate vice president for information technology, who heads the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, ITaP’s research and discovery arm.

The Rosen Center plans to build the new cluster this summer. The plan calls for the supercomputer to be running research jobs by July.

“The community cluster program allows faculty to pull resources together into a more significant computational resource,” Campbell said. “Faculty can use their nodes and also borrow unused cycles from other faculty partners.”

Space limitations in ITaP's MATH building machine room mean the Coates cluster can have a maximum capacity of 1280 nodes. New orders won't be taken once that limit is reached. Those ordering equipment for use outside Coates, however, will be able to do so for six months, Campbell said.

For a catalog of available hardware and to order Coates nodes, or to make individual or departmental purchases, visit:

Through “community clustering,” ITaP pools funds from grants, faculty startup packages and institutional sources to make more computing power available than faculty and campus units could afford individually for major engineering, science and social science research projects.

The Rosen Center installs, administers and maintains the community cluster systems, including security, so researchers can concentrate on doing research not on running a high-performance computing system.

One goal of community clustering is maximizing the use of resources by sharing computing power researchers use only part of the time with their peers, who can make use of it during what might otherwise be idle time. Researchers always have access to the computing power they purchase, and potentially more if they need it.

The combining of orders during purchasing also attracts a better price from vendors, who are willing to provide significant price breaks on large orders. Purdue saved more than a half million dollars in building the Steele cluster in May 2008. Many of the more than 30 faculty “investors” took the opportunity to add to their orders, ending up with more computing power for the dollars they had planned to spend.

The new cluster is being named for Clarence L. “Ben” Coates. He was a driving force behind the high-performance computing and networking plan that led to the creation of the Engineering Computer Network (ECN) serving all of Purdue’s engineering schools.

Writer: Greg Kline, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), (765) 494-8167

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