$400K Grant Will Help Create State-of-the-Art “ACRES” Cluster

The National Science Foundation has awarded $400,000 to Clarkson University to construct a new high-performance computing cluster to support data and computationally intensive projects.

Clarkson University Receives $400K NSF Grant
Brian Huntley, Director of Network Services and Information Security, works on the ACRES cluster in Clarkson's Green Data Center.

This funding will facilitate the creation of a new computational cluster, "Accelerating Computational Research for Engineering and Science" (ACRES), at Clarkson. It will provide state-of-the-art computational resources to support current research and provide a structure for future growth.

A computing cluster is a group of independent computers most commonly linked together through a high-performance network.

At its inception ACRES will include 2440 Intel Xeon Cascade Lake cores, 8TB of memory, four NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs, 40Gbps Infinniband interconnect, and 40TB of SSD scratch storage.  

“Building upon the University's strong history of high-impact fundamental and applied research, Clarkson faculty are increasingly pursuing data-intensive, intra- and inter-institutional collaborative activities," says Clarkson Chief Information Officer Joshua Fiske, principal investigator of the NSF award. "Access to high-performance computing resources is critical to expanding these research activities.”

As proposed to the NSF, the project will support ten active research projects in Clarkson’s four research focus areas: data and complex system analytics, healthy world solutions, advanced materials development, and next-generation healthcare technologies.

"ACRES will facilitate research currently not practical or feasible," says Fiske. "It also will support new student learning opportunities through courses, undergraduate research, and an existing NSF research experience for undergraduates that focuses on high-performance computing."

"ACRES will be available for use by all Clarkson faculty and their research teams to support sponsored research," says Professor and Chair of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Brian Helenbrook, the award's co-principal investigator. "It will support the University's increased focus on computational research as well as the hiring of additional computationally active faculty."

For users who need more than casual access to a shared computing environment, Clarkson will also offer faculty members the option of purchasing additional dedicated resources to augment ACRES by becoming ACRES owners.

"We anticipate that when it's fully operational the vast majority of ACRES’s compute nodes will be owners' nodes, and researchers' purchases will be the main driver behind the expansion of the cluster," says Fiske. "This is often called 'the condo model' and allows ACRES owners to benefit from the scale of the cluster, giving them access to more compute nodes than their individual purchase. This provides owners with much greater flexibility than owning a standalone workstation."

Read more at https://sites.clarkson.edu/acres.

As a private, national research university, Clarkson is a leader in technological education and sustainable economic development through teaching, scholarship, research and innovation. We ignite personal connections across academic fields and industries to create the entrepreneurial mindset, knowledge and intellectual curiosity needed to innovate world-relevant solutions and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the New York Capital Region, Beacon, N.Y., and New York City, Clarkson educates 4,300 students across 95 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, the arts, education, sciences and health professions. Our alumni earn salaries that are among the top 2.5% in the nation and realize accelerated career growth. One in five already leads as a CEO, senior executive or owner of a company.