Research computing plan: Faster supercomputer, expanded team



After two years of successful expansion of the Cheaha supercomputer, UAB is not resting in the quest to continue building a faster high-performance computer to power groundbreaking research.

Future plans include growing the team of IT experts who assist research; introducing stronger shared governance to prioritize needs; and adding even more speed and capacity to Cheaha.

Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., spoke to researchers last month at the annual UAB Research Computing Day to share the vision for the future.

“We’ve created a space for tremendous success over the last few years, but we need your partnership,” Carver told researchers.

Cheaha began its exponential growth in June 2015, when UAB IT secured additional funding through grants and university partnerships for more storage for the high performance computer.

After growing to 110 teraflops and 6.6 petabytes of storage by fall 2016, UAB added new graphics processing units in 2017 to grow speed to 450 teraflops.

The plan, Carver said, is to grow Cheaha to 1,000 teraflops in 2018 — and perhaps even crack the top 100 list of most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The team that supports Cheaha will also be growing, adding up to 12 new employees in the coming year to assist researchers with using the supercomputer for their work. Eventually, Carver said, research computing could become a stand-alone entity, a research center to serve campus.

At Research Computing Day, Carver sought feedback from researchers who use Cheaha, and noted that UAB will be introducing a shared governance structure to better prioritize research computing needs and allocate resources.
Last modified on November 01, 2017