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CMU Joins Forces in Repurposing Supercomputers

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10/23/12) Debra Erdley

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the U.S. National Science Foundation, New Mexico Consortium, and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) recently launched the Parallel Reconfigurable Observational Environment (PRObE) program, a supercomputer research center using a cluster of 2,048 recently retired supercomputers from LANL.  “They decommission them every three or four years because the new computers make so much better results,” says CMU professor Garth Gibson.  PRObE partners successfully decommissioned and saved the computer clusters for reuse.  Although the main facility will stay in Los Alamos, CMU’s Parallel Data Lab in Pittsburgh will house two similar but smaller centers.  The Pittsburgh facilities will enable researchers to perform small experiments and demonstrate to the PRObE committee that they are ready to request time on the facility in Los Alamos.  “Unless they leave universities for government or industry jobs, researchers and students rarely have access to these expensive large-scale clusters,” Gibson says.  “That means they don’t get the training and education necessary to develop innovations.”  PRObE’s launch means that researchers will have the opportunity to experiment with supercomputers.  “We are taking a resource, handing it to scientists and saying, ‘Do your research on a dedicated facility,'” Gibson notes.

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