Two weeks ago the Tandy Supercomputing Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma launched as the home to one of the country’s first shared, publicly available supercomputers.

The project — born of a collaboration between The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State University, The University of Oklahoma, Tulsa Community College, the city of Tulsa, business owners and nonprofit foundations — gives community members equal access to a $3.5 million, 100-node supercomputing system at a fraction of the cost to build their own.

Providing access to high-performance computing is also a potential boon for economic development in Tulsa by helping to speed academic research and the business community’s time to market.

“We’re lucky to live in a community in which collaboration isn’t a bad word,” said David Greer, executive director of the Oklahoma Innovation Institute. “All the university presidents came together and said, ‘We want to support it.”

A Community’s Private Cloud

Five years ago the University of Tulsa engineering department set out to build a supercomputer for the school. They quickly learned that the cost of the infrastructure to house the machines alone would eat up 60 percent of the budget. The remaining 40 percent wasn’t nearly adequate to buy the computers they needed for the job, Greer said.

Talking with other researchers in Tulsa, Greer learned it was a common problem and together they hatched a plan to address it.

“We had this naïve concept that we could pool our money and build something we could all use,” said Greer.

The Tandy Supercomputing Center is essentially a private cloud built for an entire community. The center, housed at Tulsa City Hall, holds 100 nodes with 128 GB of RAM, comprised of two 2.7 GHz Intel Xeon CPUs each running Red Hat Linux for a total of 1600 cores with about 30 Teraflops at current capacity.

But when it comes to […]