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Behind the Scenes:
Big Machine on Campus

by Sara LaJeunesse



Russell Malmberg has a considerable need for speed. Computational speed, that is. “The number one problem we’ve had with our research into predicting RNA structure is computational power limitations,” said the UGA professor and head of the plant biology department.

Malmberg’s problem may have been solved. Combined grants of almost $5 million from the UGA Research Foundation and the Georgia Research Alliance have paved the way for a new Research Computing Center (RCC). With IBM and Silicon Graphics supercomputers, combined with a new Network Appliance shared storage system, the center has the capacity to run almost two trillion floating-point operations per second (teraflops) and store more information than the entire printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress. A new high-performance computing cluster is expected to be operational this fall, and a grid computing resource is being developed for deployment in early 2006. The RCC is connected to the Southern Light Rail (SLR) regional optical network and the National LambdaRail (NLR) national optical network, dedicated specifically to research in the United States. The RCC became operational in September 2004, and the SLR became operational this past spring. While researchers in fields such as bioinformatics, computational physics, chemistry and nanotechnology require extremely rapid processing speeds, humanities scholars have a great need for information storage.

For example, William Kretzschmar Jr., professor of English and linguistics at UGA, has massive computer-storage requirements for the data produced by his linguistic interviews. That’s why the RCC provides researchers with more than 24 terabytes (24 trillion bytes) of useable storage that can be expanded up to 96 terabytes.

Malm Malmberg, Kretzschmar and other UGA faculty are understandably excited about the RCC. “This sort of development opens up new possibilities and keeps us a top-level research university” across its full range of disciplines, said Kretzschmar.

For more information, access or contact Jerry NeSmith, director of OVPR’s Office of Research Services, at or Alan Ferrenberg, UGA’s Enterprise Information Technology Services business director, at


Research Communications, Office of the VP for Research, UGA
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