Investment in computational science moves Notre Dame’s research capabilities forward

Author: William G. Gilroy

Notre Dame Research

The University of Notre Dame has purchased another high performance cluster – a 6,000-core computer that allows researchers to quickly process large amounts of data for scientific research. Purchased by the Center for Research Computing (CRC) at Notre Dame and the University’s faculty, the new computer – or “CRC cluster” – adds to the University’s state-of-the-art computing capabilities that can be shared across academic disciplines for advanced research.

“Innovative research is one of the pillars of research at Notre Dame,” said Robert J. Bernhard, vice president for research at the University. “This new cluster is a significant step forward in expanding our computational capabilities. We’re anticipating using the cluster to explore challenging and important questions across many disciplines at Notre Dame.”

The CRC cluster is comprised of 490 Hewlett Packard (HP) servers, leveraging more than 5,880 cores that will enable researchers at Notre Dame to process more information faster than they have ever before. Launching the new CRC cluster is part of a $1.8 million research computing investment; subsequent projects will include bringing in additional clusters, cluster nodes, an SMP system and additional high-performance storage.

More than 50 diverse research groups are using the CRC cluster, the most prolific being chemistry, biochemistry, bio-complexity and engineering (chemical, mechanical, civil and aerospace). Scientists are using the cluster to examine everything from ways to develop clean fuels from crude oil to drug design. Other departments, such as social sciences, also are beginning to make more use of the computational resources of the CRC.

“The new CRC cluster has already allowed some researchers to more than triple their productivity,” said Jarek Nabrzyski, director of the CRC at Notre Dame. “This new cluster was also surprisingly easy to integrate into our existing systems, and the excellent high-performance-to-price ratio allows us to maximize new resource allocations for our high capacity user requirements.”

Examples of Notre Dame’s research include:

  • Modeling highly complex blood clotting processes to advance the understanding and treatment of heart disease, strokes and hemophilia.
  • Using molecular simulation to develop a fundamental understanding of the link between the physical properties of materials and their chemical constitution, with a special focus on the properties of nanomaterials.
  • Discovering planets outside the solar system to help further astrophysicists’ study of star and planet formation.
  • Developing a molecular-level understanding of chemical reactivity at surfaces, which can be used to develop methods to prepare clean fuels from crude oil or coal and to transform chemical to electrical energy in fuel cells.
  • Creating computational models of coastal ocean hydrodynamics that can be applied to real-world problems, from dealing with coastal flooding due to hurricanes to helping map currents for shipping operations, dredging and harbor design.
  • Generating latent variable modeling and analysis as part of psychology research to determine how genomes affect behavior.

In addition to the greater capacity for on-campus research, the CRC cluster also provides Notre Dame researchers with the computing capacity to participate in interdisciplinary research projects with scientists all over the world.

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Contact: Jarek Nabrzyski, director, Center for Research Computing, 574-631-2400,