The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Arkansas at Little Rock a $291,908 grant for the purchase of a high-performance data storage system that will be a first at this scale for higher education and research in Arkansas.
The three-year grant will help UALR’s Computational Research Center (CRC) acquire a peta-scale data storage system to expand on the supercomputers already available there.
“To put this in perspective, the new system will be 10 times larger than the latest system we currently own,” according to Dr. Kenji Yoshigoe, principal investigator and director of the CRC.
Supercomputers are capable of performing as much as multi-quadrillions operations per second.
They can be used for simulation, data mining, and visualization to solve various scientific problems not possible by theoretical and experimental approaches, Yoshigoe said.
“Supercomputing represents, in many ways, the most effective mechanisms for tackling advanced scientific and engineering challenges,” he added.
The purchase is expected to support a wide range of big data research projects throughout Arkansas, including computational chemistry and physics groups, as well as the joint bioinformatics program offered through UALR and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
“More and more research projects require substantial amounts of computational power that individual research groups cannot afford in their own labs,” said Yoshigoe.
“The popularity of big data research has quickly caught up to the capability of the existing system we offer, so we are fortunate to receive this competitive award in order to boost new and ongoing research projects at UALR and collaborating institutions.”
The new instrument will also boost STEM education in the state, according to Yoshigoe.
“This project will allow us to bring ideas and findings of the big data projects to classrooms to stimulate future data scientists – one of the most rapidly growing careers in the next decade,” he said.
The project’s co-investigators at UALR are Drs. Nitin Agarwal, John Talburt, and Jerry Darsey.
The grant is effective September 1, 2014 through August 31, 2017. The project title is “MRI: Acquisition of Peta-scale Data Storage System for Big Data Exploration in STEM Fields.”
Yoshigoe said the goal is to finalize the purchase later this academic semester.
In addition to providing supercomputing resources, the UALR CRC, located in the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) building, hosts computing resources for the new Emerging Analytics Center as well as for an NSF-funded Cloud Computing project.
Yoshigoe is also the director of the National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security designated Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE) and the chair of Computer Science Department at UALR, where five NSF grants have been awarded to faculty in the last 12 months.