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Friday, September 23, 2011

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UT Austin awarded $50 million to build faster, more powerful supercomputer

First, there was Ranger. Soon, there will be a Stampede.

With the help of a $50 million National Science Foundation grant, the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin is building a new supercomputer with twice the memory and 20 times the peak computational capabilities as its current top performer, known as Ranger.

The grant was announced Sept. 22 at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, which is the current home of Ranger and where the new supercomputer – to be called Stampede – will be housed. The building that houses Ranger will be expanded to accommodate Stampede. Last November, UT System Regents authorized $23 million for computational enhancements, which will be used for the Stampede project.

"Stampede will be one of the most powerful systems in the world and will be uniquely comprehensive in its technological capabilities," said TACC Director Jay Boisseau. "Many researchers will leverage Stampede not only as part of their breakthrough scientific research, but for all of their scientific research, including visualization, data analysis and data-intensive computing. We expect the Stampede system to be an exemplar for supporting both simulation-based science and data-driven science."

With its wide-ranging capabilities, Stampede will be able to design new drugs and materials; help forecasters and climatologists understand weather better; and aid in the production of more efficient energy, among other things, Boisseau added.

When completed, Stampede will support more than 1,000 projects in computational and data-driven science and engineering from across the United States.

"This grant solidifies The University of Texas at Austin's role as one of the world's supercomputing hubs," said UT Austin President William Powers Jr. "Scientists from around the country will be able to use our supercomputer to tackle some of society's greatest challenges. It will promote collaboration and problem solving at UT and beyond."

The NSF grant includes an initial payment of $27.5 million, which will be used immediately to build the computer. The remainder of the grant will be paid over four years. Computer companies Dell Inc. and Intel Corp. will provide the hardware and processors for Stampede, which is expected to be completed by January 2013.

Stampede will be operated and supported for four years by TACC, Dell and a team of cyberinfrastructure experts at UT Austin, Clemson University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Cornell University, Indiana University, Ohio State University and The University of Texas at El Paso.

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