MRI-R2: Acquisition: A Hybrid High-Performance GPU/CPU System

Several federal government agencies and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have recently invested significant resources in the creation of a number of research projects and centers at Temple University. Many of these projects involve extensive computation requiring high-performance computing resources. Existing computing facilities at Temple University are not sufficient to meet the needs of these projects. As a result, a Center for High-Performance Computing and Networking has been established as a collaborative enterprise among the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and five other PhD-granting departments at Temple: Chemistry, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, and Pulmonary, Critical Care Medicine and Physical Therapy. These departments are organized within Temple’s College of Science and Technology, the College of Engineering, and Schools of Medicine and Public Health. This proposal requests funding to purchase and operate a hybrid high-performance GPU (graphics processing unit)/CPU system that will complement existing and future federal and state investments at Temple University and will help drive related research and educational activities. As GPUs are about to become an integral part of mainstream computing systems, the hybrid GPU/CPU system enables support for three groups of applications: traditional CPU-based, GPU-based, and hybrid GPU/CPU-based. The proposed hybrid system enables broader heterogeneous computing by deploying multiple types of computing nodes and allowing each to perform the tasks to which it is best suited.

Intellectual Merits: Groups from two major synergistic research environments will work on this project: computer and information sciences and scientific computing. The requested system will serve the following five areas of research and development: (1) research: faculty and students can use the state-of-the art instrument in the Center to conduct research using existing parallel application software; (2) development: faculty and students can develop tools for parallel programming and parallel applications on the system; (3) service: the Center offers services not only to other departments on campus, but also to other institutions in our local community, such as area high schools and local colleges/universities; (4) education and research training: the Center provides a computing environment to various science courses for students to gain hands-on experience and offers research training sessions to the local research community; and (5) collaboration: the Center will foster and support joint research with local colleges/universities, in collaboration with other schools in the state, to develop, test, and apply advanced tools for designing and executing parallel programs.

Broader Impact: Acquiring this instrument in the Center will greatly enhance the current computing facilities at Temple University. Temple is the 26th largest university in the United States with an enrollment of over 35,000 graduate and undergraduate students. With its GPU/CPU component, this instrument will also be the first of its kind of high-performance computing facility in the greater Philadelphia region. Greater Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the US with an urban population of over 6 million. The city has a high degree of diversity in ethnic groups and has one of the highest concentrations of African Americans in the United States. Greater Philadelphia also has a high concentration of high-tech and IT-related industries, and yet there is currently no high-performance computing and networking center that is able to go beyond minimal services and promote and support collaboration and cooperation among these different sectors: higher education, K-12 education, government agencies, and local industry. With the establishment of this instrument in the Center, the intent is to foster such collaboration by offering services in the areas listed above. The proposed infrastructure, as part of the stimulus infrastructure of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will certainly contribute to faster economic growth, especially in the greater Philadelphia region.




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