Stoffer Science Hall installs HiPACE supercomputer

Kyle Almond

The HiPACE computing system was installed in its home in the recently renovated Stoffer Science Hall. HiPACE (High Performance Academic Computing Environment) is an extremely powerful cluster of computers used primarily for research. The system was purchased using a Washburn Innovation Grant that was awarded on May 12, 2006. Washburn Innovation Grants are given out every three years and are awarded by the Washburn Board of Regents, with funding coming from the Washburn Endowment Association.

Proposals were solicited from 27 vendors, nine of which submitted proposals. Based on the criteria of responsiveness, suitability of product and cost, Aspen Systems Inc. was awarded the contract for $148,076.

Bruce Mechtly of the Computer Information Sciences department explained that HiPACE is set up to be a multi-user system, and the number of possible users is unlimited. He added that HiPACE can currently support more research power than Washburn can generate.

“Right now we’re interested in projects that will allow us to learn how to use the tools correctly,” said Mechtly. “We have a new tool and we are working on how to best use it. We anticipate many real research projects in the future, especially in biology and chemistry.”

Steven Black, chair of the physics department, said he planned to use HiPACE to do calculations for molecular dynamics research.

The system won’t be used just for research, though. Future plans include a Web site that would host a software repository for all Washburn faculty and students. The repository would hold include information on proprietary software, such as where to obtain it and what it is capable of, as well as open-source software that would be available for download from the Web site.