NSF Funds Upgrade of Campus Cyberinfrastructure for Research Initiatives

Issue Date: 
October 6, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh has been awarded nearly $500,000 from the National Science Foundation for a project to upgrade the University’s cyberinfrastructure for research initiatives.

The venture will enhance Pitt’s connection to major national research and education networks, providing additional bandwidth and capacity to computational resources, science centers, and advanced networking. The project will also improve the campus connection to the University data center that hosts high-performance computing resources, which are used by researchers for sophisticated simulation, modeling, and data analysis.

Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development will work with teams within the University and other NSF-funded organizations to design and implement a Science DMZ, which is a subnetwork designed by the U.S. Department of Energy for data-intensive science. This will improve the secure movement of scientific data among researchers collaborating on local, national, and international projects.

“The new networking infrastructure made possible by this NSF grant is a key step in our strategic efforts to advance the technology environment for University researchers,” notes Jinx Walton, Pitt’s chief information officer. “The development of a Science DMZ will facilitate the high-speed transfer of large datasets by those Pitt scientists and researchers taking advantage of high-performance computing.” 

BrianBrian Stengel Stengel, staff member in the Office of the CIO and principal investigator on the project, adds: “NSF recognizes that advanced networking is critical for researchers and educators making innovative use of computing, data, and resources distributed across campus and across the country. We’re excited to have been awarded by this program and are looking forward to improving services that support Pitt’s scientific cyberinfrastructure. We know that e-science is a team sport, and we’re focused on helping researchers compete for new awards and recognition.”

Stengel says that some examples of research that will benefit from the upgrade include the Pittsburgh Genome Resource Repository, the massively parallel simulations of turbulent flows conducted by the Laboratory for Computational Transport Phenomena, and the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Tier-3 simulations and data analysis in preparation for the anticipated Large Hadron Collider run in 2015.

In addition to stronger networking connections to Pitt’s University Data Center, the project will upgrade Pitt’s connection to the Three Rivers Optical Exchange from 10 Gbps (gigabits per second) to 100 Gbps, and will provide additional bandwidth and capacity to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and to research and education networks, including Internet2, the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE).

Internet2, which operates the nation’s fastest research and education network, is a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education organizations. Internet2 serves as the backbone infrastructure to ESnet and XSEDE.