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Partnership harnesses the power of defense supercomputing for scientific discovery

August 9th, 2016

Strategic alliance offers accessible, enhanced HPC resources benefiting researchers, higher education and national security

The University of Maryland (UMD) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the central laboratory that provides world-class research for the Army, have formed a strategic partnership to provide high-performance computing (HPC) resources for use in higher education and research communities.

As a result of this synergistic partnership, students, professors, engineers and researchers will have unprecedented access to technologies that enable scientific discovery and innovation.

The partnership was formed under ARL’s “Open Campus” initiative, which aims to build a science and technology ecosystem. Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), a University of Maryland center that operates a multi-state advanced cyberinfrastructure platform, will connect ARL’s high-performance computer “Harold” to this ecosystem on its 100-Gbps optical network. Collaborators from the UMD, MAX and ARL communities will be able to build research networks, explore complex problems, engage in competitive research opportunities and encounter realistic research applications. www.maxgigapop.net

“The UMD/MAX-ARL partnership provides a unique opportunity for both organizations to create a national model of collaboration in the HPC field,” said Tripti Sinha, MAX Executive Director and UMD Assistant Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. “Collaborative partnerships are key to maximizing our technological potential and ensuring our nation’s strength and competitiveness in the critical fields of science and research. UMD and MAX are very excited to work with ARL on this endeavor.”

In addition to increasing accessibility and enhancing HPC resources for researchers, the collaboration between UMD/MAX and ARL will also support innovation activities conducted by private and startup companies that connect through MAX’s infrastructure.

“Our goal is to take the cutting-edge computational power that we use for defense research, development, test, and evaluation and put that in a place that will benefit the wider scientific community,” said Dr. Raju Namburu, Chief, Computational Sciences Division, Computational and Information Sciences Directorate, U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

UMD, MAX and ARL’s combined effort not only benefits the mid-Atlantic region, but also aligns with the federal government’s strategic initiative to maximize the benefits of supercomputing for economic competitiveness, scientific discovery, and national security. An executive order announced in July 2015 established the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) to support the United States in its efforts to remain a leader in the development and deployment of HPC systems.

“The university is in full support of the federal government’s leadership on this critical HPC initiative,” said Eric Denna, UMD Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “The creation of the UMD/MAX-ARL partnership is just one step in the promotion of HPC innovation, and UMD will continue to actively participate by contributing technical expertise and sharing knowledge with our key collaborators.”

The UMD/MAX-ARL partnership also lays the foundation for the organizations to expand their reach and make additional HPC resources accessible to the communities they serve.

Harold will become available once the machine is scrubbed, declassified and brought into ARL’s demilitarized zone, or perimeter network. Under ARL and UMD’s collaborative research development agreement (CRADA), the HPC resource will be allocated to MAX’s Internet Protocol (IP) address space and will be accessible to the collective communities of UMD, MAX and ARL’s Open Campus. As a result, researchers will have supercomputing-caliber computational capability and leading-edge advanced networking research at their fingertips that is designed for application development and networking experiments.

“This joint research venture with UMD/MAX will leverage ARL’s high-performance resources and the Army’s groundbreaking research programs in emerging scientific computing architectures, such as non Von Neumann computing architectures, distributed ad-hoc computing and programmable networks,” Namburu said. “The result is a unique opportunity for synergistic collaboration between two prominent organizations on the forefront of research and innovation.”

The ultimate goal is to share HPC resources for the good of the community and ensure that groundbreaking collaborative projects have the necessary tools.

“An HPC resource like Harold will significantly enhance the capabilities of the University of Maryland’s faculty and student researchers,” said Patrick O’Shea, UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer. “The partnership between UMD/MAX and ARL opens up connections for our community and enables research opportunities. We are eager to see the expansion of our creative ecosystem.”

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Material from a press release was used in this report.

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