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Big Red II to replace IU computer


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By Emma Foor





The University has recently acquired the fastest university-owned supercomputer, named Big Red II.

This machine is appropriately named after Big Red, the University’s current supercomputer.

The first supercomputer was a part of the University for seven years, outliving the average life of a supercomputer by three years,  Vice President of Information Technology Brad Wheeler said.

“The old supercomputer will barely make it to the finish line,” he said. “We have absolutely extracted all the value out of that machine.”

This is evident in the $253 million in research contracts and grants that were secured through the use of Big Red.

Big Red II was purchased from a United States-based supercomputer company called Cray, including installation and maintenance for an estimated $7.5 million, Wheeler said.

“The purchase of Big Red II will mean IU will be increasingly attractive to some of the best faculty in the nation as it gives them the tools to compete at the front edge of education,” he said.

Big Red II is scheduled to arrive in April and be housed at IU Bloomington’s Data
Center.

This technology will be available to everyone at IU. Faculty and graduate students can use it any time. Undergraduate students can use it with a faculty sponsor.

Through the advanced technology researchers will be able to create and study models of several subjects, including medical uses such as biology and chemistry, as well as other sciences.

The new supercomputer will be able to function at a much faster rate than
Big Red.

According to the University Information Technology Services Knowledge Base, one measure of a supercomputer’s compute capacity is in terms of the number of “FLOPs”, or floating point operations per second.

A teraflop is one trillion floating point operations per second.

The higher the number of teraflops, the greater the number of operations can be performed within one second.

To compare the old and new systems, Big Red was 40 teraflops, whereas Big Red II will be 1,000 teraflops.

“I think the main importance of Big Red II is that it just continues to make IU and the State of Indiana very competitive in research and jobs,” Wheeler said. “Without it, we wouldn’t have the tools that we need for further economic development.”

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Big Red, a distributed shared-memory cluster housed in the IU Data Center, is set to be succeeded by Big Red II. The new computer, arriving in the spring, will become the nation's fastest university-owned supercomputer, with processing power 25 times that of Big Red's. Luke Schram Buy Photos
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Big Red, a distributed shared-memory cluster housed in the IU Data Center, is set to be succeeded by Big Red II. The new computer, arriving in the spring, will become the nation's fastest university-owned supercomputer, with processing power 25 times that of Big Red's. Luke Schram Buy Photos
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