High Performance Computing and Information Technology
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute's IT group provides the infrastructure, applications, and services that power our research. With high-performance computing technologies, our researchers are fighting multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, modeling the spread of beliefs through social media, and simulating complex systems to inform policy-making.
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute of Virginia Tech has undertaken a large investment in providing advanced computing capabilities for our scientists and researchers. The institute's goal has been to provide superior compute and data storage infrastructure specifically to meet the needs of the life and medical sciences. Our state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and instrumentation make us one of the premier computational institutes in the country.
Part of the institute’s computational mission is to develop sophisticated applications requiring high-performance computing infrastructure; a broad set of embedded, maintained, and ready-to-use national and international databases; and a cadre of application development specialists. Combined, these components enable both researchers and teams of scientists to quickly and effectively translate even the most computationally intense ideas into solutions, which are then made available to a broad base of users via the web.
In a 2020 merger, Virginia Tech's Division of Information Technology’s Advanced Research Computing unit (ARC) ignited a collaboration with the Fralin Life Sciences Institute's research computing team, giving ARC access to the newly renovated high-performance computing data center located in the Fralin Life Sciences Institute’s Steger Hall. The new data center will facilitate future expansion to incorporate the modern cooling technologies required to enable both cutting-edge architectures and the associated compute-heavy research that will accelerate Virginia Tech’s research ambitions.
Our high-performance computing resources are available to bring researchers, transdisciplinary scientists, and IT specialists together to more effectively and efficiently solve a wide range of problems. A critical component of our cyberinfrastructure are the ability to create solid solutions to computational issues in a professional, secure manner.
Our three high-performance computing (HPC) data centers house 500 servers and multiple clusters, totaling more than 4000 cores and 22TB of RAM. Our combined disk storage systems provide nearly 5PB of storage. The centers utilize a dedicated 8GBps Fibre Channel and 10 Gbps Ethernet networks and are connected with high-speed links to Network Virginia and Internet2.
Shadowfax is the institute’s primary hybrid cluster. It consists of over 2500 CPU cores, 4 quad-socket large memory nodes, and various database and portal systems. It’s an all-purpose resource computational system used throughout the institute for sequence alignment, large-scale socio-technical modeling, and other jobs. This system provides 28 TB of RAM and over 1200TB of high-performance GPFS storage for both scratch and home directories.
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute of Virginia Tech also provides archive storage complemented by over 5PBs of tape pool, seamlessly integrated by SGI’s DMF (Data Migration Facility). The system is attached via a 10 GbE network. Backup and archive are provided by a StorageTek SL8500 tape library using archive; peak capacity would be well over 50PB.