July 7, 2015

Baltimore Sun: Johns Hopkins, UMD to open data research center

Christina Jedra

The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland plan to open one of the country’s largest computing centers this month.

The Maryland Advanced Research Computing Center will open with $30 million in state funding, officials said.

“It’s a place where you put a very large computer that is able to solve bigger problems than scientists and researchers could solve with computers on their desktop or in their laboratories,” said Hopkins professor Jeffrey Hollingsworth.

The joint supercomputing center is made up of 19,000 processors and 17 petabytes — or 17 million gigabytes — of storage capacity, officials said, and will provide digital processing power to researchers from both institutions. It is roughly the size of 100 refrigerators.

Hollingsworth said the center, the first of its kind in Maryland, can help scientists study such complex areas as the human genome and climate change.

The center is to be located near the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus in Baltimore but will also be accessible remotely to researchers.

Hollingsworth said a committee will review applications from researchers and allocate time on the system. He said students will also be given opportunities to use the system.

“Our biggest fear is not that people won’t want to use it but that everyone will want to use in the first few days of the semester and we won’t have enough capacity,” Hollingsworth said.

Until now, he said, scientists in Maryland relied on out-of-state facilities. They will now have priority access to the local data center.

Patrick O’Shea, vice president for research at the University of Maryland, the center reflects a trend of data analytics.

“Taking advantage of the revolutionary potential of research involving large data sets to transform knowledge and improve human lives requires expanding the computing resources available to researchers,” he said in a statement. “This new joint supercomputing center will do just that.”

Originally posted on the Baltimore Sun, available here.

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