UK upgrading technology

By Morgan Eads

[email protected]

The University of Kentucky has taken another step toward aligning itself with the ever-changing, ever-advancing world of supercomputing.

An announcement was given Monday about the significant upgrades happening in the university’s supercomputing resources. UK senior vice provost for academic planning, analytics and technologies, and chief information officer Vince Kellen gave information on why the new technology is important for the university.

“Every two years we go back and we see how computation has evolved and we try to procure what’s been made available,” he said. “So we try to keep the hardware in what we call a refresh cycle every two years.”

Kellen also told the audience about what can be gained from the upgrades.

“The main benefit is more researchers getting their work done faster,” he said.

UK President Eli Capilouto weighed in on the new supercomputing systems and their importance in keeping the university current.

“It’s an increasingly hyper-connected, technology-infused world and we’ve got to stay on the cutting edge,” he said.

President Capilouto also said the technology will help UK move forward in research.

“We cannot overstate the importance of this technology,” he said. “We cannot move forward, we cannot be positioned to recruit and retain world class faculty and researchers if we do not have this capacity.”

The system will give the university a competitive edge, President Capilouto said.

“It leverages us, it strengthens us to get the next awards and to recruit that next group of best and brightest students,” he said.

Clinical information specialist of public relations Keith Hautala said in an email the supercomputing technologies will not exclusively benefit researchers, but students as well.

“Students benefit from having world-class scientists as their teachers and mentors. There are also plentiful opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research at UK,” he said. “There’s really a tremendous amount of exciting research being done across all disciplines here on campus, and there are plenty of ways that students can plug into that and benefit from it.”

Hautala said the technology is important to complete research in medicine, physics and agriculture as well.

“This type of research is impossible without the computing resources to handle very large sets of data,” he said. “The supercomputer can do in minutes what would take even the most powerful desktop computer weeks, months, or even years.”

The university received a grant to contribute to the upgrades in supercomputing technologies. The NSF Cyber Infrastructure grant is for $1 million and will be applied to obtaining important software, Hautala said.

“It will be used to deploy software-defined networking, which gives researchers more direct, dynamic control over the flow of data,” he said.