Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, January 28, 2013

IT infrastructure improvements support computational research

A grant from the National Science Foundation will help the university make IT infrastructure improvements that will speed research computing on campus.

The work will improve connectivity between the university’s primary data centers and the visualization lab, as well as between campus and the broader Internet. As a result, faculty and student use of computational research resources will be faster and more efficient.

“These improvements have direct impact on Michigan’s research and educational missions, says Brian Noble, professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering.

“For example, faculty in the Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences department will more easily be able to carry out large-scale atmospheric simulations using our shared high-performance research computers housed in university data centers” says Noble, principal investigator on the grant.

The four key improvements to the university’s networking infrastructure include:

• Upgrading the backbone data networks that connect campus to the Internet for a tenfold increase in speed from 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) to 100Gbps.

• Upgrading connectivity to campus data centers that house high performance research computer clusters (called Nyx and Flux) from 10Gbps to 100Gbps.

• Upgrading connectivity to the UM3D Lab from 1Gbps to 10Gbps.

• Expanding infrastructure for network performance monitoring capabilities.

The Office for Research Cyberinfrastructure will manage the project and partner with Information and Technology Services to complete the necessary work. The grant covers the cost of the project, which is $487,000.

Andrew Palms, ITS executive director of communications systems and data centers, is a co-principal investigator on the grant. “This grant is an example of how university IT is collaborating with faculty and advancing the university’s critical missions.

“This year, we made great strides in high performance research computing when the new Modular Data Center was installed. Now, with the help of this grant, we will be able to connect data in the Michigan Academic Computing Center (MACC) and the UM3D lab to the Modular Data Center at high speed. The result will be a highly effective environment in which to implement systems and services supporting computational discovery,” Palms says.

Also a co-principal investigator for the project is Ken Powell, professor of aerospace engineering and interim associate vice president for research-cyberinfrastructure.