Rutgers University has a powerful new tool at its disposal, and the school is inviting industry to reap the benefits.
The school will flip the switch Tuesday on a new high-performance computing system at its newly created Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute, in Piscataway.
The IBM Blue Gene supercomputer — dubbed “Excalibur” — will give the university new capabilities to analyze so-called “big data,” and has applications in a number of fields, including life sciences and finance.
Manish Parashar, a professor of electrical engineering and the director of the institute, said technology has dramatically increased the amount of data used in business and science.
“You have this huge data challenge that’s becoming part of almost every industry, business and even society,” Parashar said. “To be able to do analytics to transform that data into insight and knowledge one can act on, you need these large computers.”
The center is a partnership between Rutgers and IBM, and both entities are contributing to the cost of the hardware; Parashar said the price for a Blue Gene computer runs about $3.3 million.
He said the arrangement is a win-win for Rutgers and IBM, since the university was looking for a partner in the large computer space, and IBM was looking to partner with industry, something they can now do through the center and through Rutgers’ network of industry partners.
In a press release, Phil Guido, IBM’s general manager for North America, said the partnership will help improve the state’s economic competitiveness.
“IBM firmly believes that public-private collaborations and research can be critical in ensuring our work force is equipped and empowered with next-generation skills, like analytics,” he said.
Rutgers said the computer, which is housed on Rutgers’ Busch Campus, is the only supercomputer available to commercial users in the state, and the center will be one of only eight in the nation to have industrial partnership programs.
Two advisory panels are being formed for the informatics institute, one aimed at finance, one focused on health care and the life sciences. Each panel is scheduled to hold its initial meeting in April.
Longer term, Parashar said the computer and the new institute mark the critical first step toward making the university a leading partner for complicated analytics.
“We’re extremely excited not just because of this launch today, but because of what it signifies in terms of the capability that Rutgers has and being able to partner with industry partners and researchers,” he said.