Federal funds to help buy huge computer

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The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center will receive partial funding, in the amount of $2.8 million, from the National Science Foundation to buy a system that features a new, extremely large coherent shared-memory computing system that promises to give scientists and engineers the ability to work on larger problems more quickly than ever.

The SGI Altix UV system -- planned for delivery later this summer -- will have 32 terabytes of memory, organized as two connected 16-terabyte coherent shared-memory systems. They will be the largest coherent shared-memory systems in the world, the center said.

The center will integrate the new system into the TeraGrid, a cyberinfrastructure that links some of the most powerful computers across the country.

With shared memory, a system's memory can be directly accessed from all of its processors. It differs from distributed memory, where each processor's memory is directly accessed only by that processor. The new system will complement other NSF systems, most of which are based on distributed-memory design.

"For many research communities -- including data analysis and many areas of computer science -- it will open the door to use of high-performance computation and thereby expand the abilities of scientists to ask and answer questions," scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies said in a joint statement.


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