The expansion of the machine room will enable the center to complete the installation of all 13 racks of the Ulam supercomputer, a powerful machine that the center received from The New Mexico Consortium, said Susan Atlas, director of CARC.

“The expansion will be complete by the end of February or beginning of March and the Ulam machine will come online about a week after that,” Atlas said.



The New Mexico Consortium donated the supercomputer to UNM with support from its National Science Foundation-funded PRObE supercomputing initiative, which provides repurposed supercomputers from Los Alamos National Laboratory to several universities across the country, according to a press release issued by UNM.

The New Mexico Consortium is a non-profit corporation formed by three New Mexico research universities to advance scientific research and education in New Mexico, according to the statement.

The expansion project is funded by CARC, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Atlas said.

The project includes adding a new 30-ton computer room air conditioning unit; an uninterruptible power supply to condition the electrical power and provide backup power in case of an electrical outage; and adding hot aisle containment for improved energy efficiency, said Abra Altman, program officer at the Center.

The Ulam machine will be heavily used for bioinformatics and bionomic research, Atlas noted, combining computer science, statistics, mathematics and engineering to study and process biological data.

The huge computing power will also be available to any other departments or students who can use it to help their research and projects, she said.

“Ulam and the other CARC supercomputers are resources that are available at no cost to any student or researcher at the university who needs large-scale computing capabilities for their work,” Atlas said.

“The total budget for the project is just over a quarter of a million dollars,” Atlas said. “We have been waiting to deploy the final 11 Ulam racks. We only have two of the racks currently up and running because we did not have enough electricity, cooling or (uninterruptible power supply) to bring them online.”

The complete installation of Ulam will increase the capacity of the center by almost 1,000 cores to approximately 3,000 total, she said.

The expansion project has been in the pipeline for almost a year, she said.

“The original design study was completed last June by Assurance Engineering, an external firm. Once that was done, we began working with UNM’s PPD Engineering and adopted most of Assurance’s design study recommendations,” she said.

Sayyed Shah is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at assistant-news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @mianfawadshah.