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  • 2022 Research Computing Days

    Join us for two days of workshops, keynote speakers and training as we discuss high-performance computing and research. The free event, taking place virtually and at the fourth-floor atrium at Lister Hill Library, will include breakfast and an optional social event.

    UAB is home to Cheaha, Alabama’s fastest supercomputer, which supported more than $213 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2021 alone.

    Please note UAB’s COVID guidelines, which currently require masks for all individuals indoors on campus.


  • Suggest topics or offer to speak for Research Computing Days 2022

    Research computing — and how it can empower researchers at UAB and beyond — will be front and center at the annual Research Computing Days, set for March 1-2, 2022, at UAB.

    As UAB IT plans for the event, we are looking for individuals who would like to lead workshops or suggest topics for workshops related to data science, HPC or cloud computing, data transfers and management, or research data analysis. Visit go.uab.edu/RCDaysSurvey2022 to complete a survey to register your interest in Research Computing Days, volunteer to be a speaker or helper, or suggest a topic.

    UAB is home to Cheaha, Alabama’s fastest supercomputer, which supported more than $213 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2021 alone.

  • Cheaha power increases again; research computing infrastructure undergoing transformation

    UAB IT is redesigning its research computing infrastructure to make it more robust and scalable, as well as more reliable, in response to an increase in demand for services. This comes after a $2 million investment that saw a 225% increase in the computing power of Cheaha, the state's fastest supercomputer.

    Even during the COVID pandemic and a period of remote work at UAB, UAB IT Research Computing saw marked growth in the use of its services. More than 1,700 users are registered for research computing services, a nearly five-fold increase in the past five years.

    The next step in redesigning the research computing infrastructure will be migrated equipment from aged data centers to new state-of-the-art facilities on Oct. 18 and Nov. 8. Among the destinations are the new Technology Innovation Center and locally-based data center DC BLOX.

    "One driver for the Technology Innovation Center was to house UAB's high-performance computer, Cheaha," said Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., assistant vice president for Research Computing. "But we quickly realized that we needed a bigger house. The new facilities will be more reliable, thus increasing system availability for the research community."

    Old Research Computing Lab
    UAB IT Research Computing has outgrown its old data center facilities. The old data center walls were literally blown out twice after fire suppression systems were activated. But both times the systems were restored within 24 hours without any lost data.

    An Intel Innovation Fund award helped drive a $2 million investment in Dell equipment that doubled research computing power. Ultimately, RC computing will go from 4352 compute processing cores and 72 GPUs to 9840 compute processing cores and 136 GPUs, or a final estimated 1,240,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second (1.24 petaFLOPS) another measure of computing speed.

    "These new resources accelerated COVID-19 computational research on campus," Zottola said.

    Research Computing also received funding from the UAB Education Foundation that enabled the design and implementation of two new computing systems: the UAB Research Cloud and the Kubernetes Research Automation cluster. The UAB Research Cloud will allow researcher to be creative: it provides a development sandbox to create new analysis workflows, present data and figures to the world, and also test out ways to scale their analysis to massive scales. Kubernetes allows researchers to automate their complex analyses like an orchestra, fittingly called 'orchestration.' Orchestration can make scientific analysis more reproducible and scalable. "I call Kubernetes orchestration 'rotisserie science," said Blake Joyce, Ph.D., new data science manager at UAB, "you tell the computer how many samples you have, exactly what you want it to do, and then you leave it to do the easy stuff. Researchers are then free to write manuscripts, grants, or experiment while the computers analyze data. When the analysis is ready, researchers can spend precious time assessing the data and results, actual science, instead of fighting with computers."

    That expansion meant UAB IT outgrew the Technology Innovation Center almost as soon as it was built.

    "UAB Research computing resources grew so quickly that we required more space, power and cooling than the TIC data center was originally designed to provide two years ago," said Joyce. "It's a great problem to have. And fortunately, a new data center facility opened a mile from the UAB campus, DC BLOX."

    Ultimately, the TIC data center will host the Cheaha HPC compute nodes and new tiered research data storage services in the TIC data center. DC BLOX will host the UAB Research Cloud, the Kubernetes Research Automation machine, and all the graphical processing units, including the newest NVIDIA DGX A100 nodes. A 200 gigabit per second network between the TIC and DC BLOX data centers will ensure seamless, instantaneous interaction between the different research computing and storage resources.

    "We are grateful to President Ray Watts, Dr. Curt Carver, Dr. Chris Brown, and the UAB research computing community for their investment in research computing and the trust placed in us to guide this expansion," Zottola said. "Our No. 1 priority during the data center migration project is to minimize negative impact to ongoing research by avoiding significant interruption to Cheaha HPC and RC services."

    UAB IT has more than 1,700 researchers registered for RC services and 624 active Cheaha users this past year alone.

    During the week of Oct. 18, all equipment in the old 936 Building data center will be moved to the TIC and DC BLOX data centers. On Nov. 8, the last of the data storage servers, the ScienceDMZ data transfer services, will be moved to TIC and DC BLOX, and the campus and DC BLOX network connections will be moved to the TIC data center.

    "We expect this last phase of migration to be unnoticed by users," said John-Paul Robinson, HPC Architect, "but migration details and updates will be announced via the regular HPC-Announce listserv process. All Cheaha users are automatically subscribed to this list."

    Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions about this project.

  • UABFile migration on hold

    UABFile 060321


    UAB IT is putting on hold the UABFile migration previously announced to a date in July. When the migration occurs, there will be a small window of downtime during which files will be accessible but cannot be edited.

    The migration was progressing well, but a configuration issue in the system caused a disruption in the migration, forcing it to rescan a large portion of the data already migrated. After consulting with its partner vendor, UAB IT conducted a thorough review of the system configuration and made corrections to prevent a reoccurrence of this issue.

    UAB IT is working with the vendor to set a new date and will communicate the details once that date is confirmed.

    When UABFile is migrated, all shares, files, folders and permissions will be retained, but snapshot backups from the old system will not be retained. New backups will be established as the data is copied, and those will be available once the migration is complete.

    If you wish to retain the old backup data, refer to this UABFile Versioning and Recovery knowledge article to learn how to access and copy the old backups.

  • Cheaha user honored by AHA

    Cheaha user Ramaraju Rudraraju, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, is part of the UAB team that won an American Heart Association prize for project mapping links between health disparities and COVID-19. Learn more at the UAB Reporter.

  • Supercomputer Cheaha now certified for HIPAA data

    The high-performance computer Cheaha has been officially certified as HIPAA-compliant, giving researchers who work with protected health information such as patient records the power of Alabama's fastest supercomputer. Read more on the UAB eReporter.

  • Research Computing tool Globus enables remote collaboration

    Data is the lifeblood of research. Moving that data between researchers is vital to ensuring continuity of research — especially in the case of remote collaboration.

    With Globus, a fast, secure and reliable data management platform, UAB IT Research Computing can help seamlessly transfer large amounts of data between researchers, with faster results than traditional methods such as FTP.

    One example is a recent collaboration between two researchers in the School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Yvonne J.K. Edwards, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Bioinformatics, and Narendra Wajapeyee, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman for research.

    William S. Monroe, scientist with Research Computing, supported the collaborators in transferring more than 400 GB of raw data and, upon analysis, more than 300 GB of results using the Globus platform.

    So how did they do it? Using Globus, eight fastq files — which contain biological sequences — were shared from Dr. Wajapeyee’s home office to a secure file share on the Cheaha supercomputer to which only Dr. Edwards has access. Dr. Edwards was then able to analyze the data from her home office using bioinformatics pipelines on Cheaha.

    “If any interruptions occur, Globus continues to monitor and support the transfer to promote a robust transfer. On the other hand, given a network interruption, traditional FTP would fail. Also, if the network can support it, the speed of Globus can be much faster.”

    - William S. Monroe, Research Computing Scientist

    Full support for Globus was announced at the UAB IT Research Computing town hall in September 2019.

    “Research Computing is using Globus to support the continued health of research,” said Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., assistant vice president for Research Computing. “Tools such as these are only possible through the support of (UAB Vice President and CIO Curt) Carver and UAB IT, as well as (UAB President Ray) Watts and UAB leadership.”

    Greg Nawrocki, director of customer engagement for Globus, said UAB IT has been a “model subscriber” in offering Globus to support researchers.

    “We are thrilled that Globus has been a key component for UAB researchers to remotely manage their data in the current state of sheltering in place,” Nawrocki said.

    Research Computing staff have been fully operational while working remotely since UAB’s limited business operations began.