Introduction to Beagle

Beagle is one of the fastest supercomputers in the world that is devoted to life sciences. The 151 teraflops, Cray XE6 system supports computation, simulation, and data analysis for the biomedical research community. Beagle is made possible by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Beagle is named after the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his famous voyage in 1831.

While Darwin’s Beagle enabled discoveries that established a unifying theory for all life sciences, the unique capabilities of UChicago’s Beagle will enable transformative innovation in basic, translational, and clinical research leading to improved diagnostic strategies and life-sustaining medical treatment.

Ian Foster, director of the CI and principal investigator for the project, with UChicago’s team of technical and domain specialists, identified the need for a powerful computational environment that would serve the growing resource-intensive requirements of the biomedical research community.

It has a total of 17,856 compute cores on 744 nodes, each connected to 32 GB of memory, for a total of 23 TB. The nodes are connected in a 3D torus topology via the Cray Gemini interconnect, which is capable of 20 GB/sec injection bandwidth per node. The XE6 is designed to work simultaneously both in Extreme Scalability Mode (ESM), which supports large scalable custom applications, and Cluster Compatibility Mode (CCM), which allows standard programs designed for smaller machines or clusters to run without modifications. This considerable amount of adaptative computational power is targeted to researchers in the biomedical field, including molecular structures and dynamics, human body and brain modeling, regulatory and transcriptional network analysis, biomedical literature data-mining, image processing and genomics. In addition, the XE6 has industry-leading “sustained performance” energy efficiency.

NIH-funded teams will be the primary users of the Beagle system. The groups that will start working on Beagle comprise more than 100 faculty, students, staff, and postdocs, and include collaborators from Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Cornell University, the University of Maryland, North Carolina State University, MIT, UCSD, and other institutions. Beagle’s utilization rely on an allocation process managed by The University of Chicago and will support biomedical research such as:

Prevention and treatment of cancer
Improved management of burn victims
Better drug design
Genetics and inherited disorders
Development of patient-specific medicine

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