IBM supercharges computing grid through University partnership to enhance research

SURAgrid Combines Assets and Expertise of 27 Universities

WASHINGTON, DC and ARMONK, NY - 11 Aug 2006: IBM (NYSE: IBM) UNIX-based systems are expected to double the current capacity of one of the nation's most innovative grid initiatives, uniting resources from 27 institutions in fifteen states, to increase dramatically its research capabilities -- from modeling coastal storm surges to advanced genome sequencing. The SURAgrid initiative is actively advancing collaborative work in grid computing to support research opportunities across the southeastern U.S.

Today's announcement by IBM and the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) confirms in principle a three-year relationship under which IBM will offer SURAgrid member institutions hardware and software, collaborate on SURAgrid projects, and work closely with university researchers to exploit the large-scale computing capability of the SURAgrid. Initial deployments of IBM high performance computing systems acquired by Louisiana State University and Georgia State University are currently in process with an additional system planned for Texas A&M University in early Fall.

The addition of these high performance IBM machines will increase SURAgrid's compute capacity to about 10 trillion calculations per second -- an amount that would take one person with a calculator about eight million years to perform.

SURAgrid harnesses the power of heterogeneous computing systems located at multiple colleges and universities into a single, virtualized entity that enables researchers from participating institutions to run advanced scientific inquiries. The computing grid relies on grid middleware from that allows disparate systems to work together, and is supported by high-speed network connections throughout the region, including the emerging National LambdaRail.

While the grid is used for multi-disciplinary research, one special focus will include study of coastal storm surges via the SURA Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction program (SCOOP), funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

According to the National Hurricane Center: "Storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more. In addition, wind driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides. Because much of the United States' densely populated Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above mean sea level, the danger from storm tides is tremendous." (1)

"The addition of IBM UNIX systems not only provides a tremendous boost in compute capability, it enhances the ability of our scientists to collaborate across multiple universities and geographies," said Jerry P. Draayer, President & CEO of SURA. "Collaboration is at the heart of SURAgrid's mission, just as it is at the center of scientific discovery and human progress."

IBM System p Infrastructure

SURAgrid will implement IBM System p575 servers, each powered by 16 Power5+ microprocessors running at 1.9 GHz and configured with 32 GB of memory.

"SURA is a leader in deploying grid technology to address vitally important challenges across a broad range of disciplines," said David Jursik, VP of deep computing, worldwide, IBM. "IBM's System p servers, combined with our research capabilities, will help accelerate SURA's mission on these important fronts."

SURAgrid is a consortium of organizations collaborating and combining resources to help bring grid technology to the level of seamless, shared infrastructure. Institutions participating in the SURAgrid include:

University of Alabama at Birmingham 
University of Alabama in Huntsville 
University of Arkansas 
Bowie State University 
University of Florida 
George Mason University 
Georgia State University 
Great Plains Network 
Kennesaw State University 
University of Kentucky 
University of Louisiana at Lafayette 
Louisiana State University 
Louisiana Tech University 
University of Maryland 
University of Michigan 
Mississippi Center for SuperComputing Research 
University of North Carolina, Charlotte 
North Carolina State University 
Old Dominion University 
University of South Carolina 
University of Southern California 
Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) 
Texas A&M University 
Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) 
Texas Tech 
Tulane University 
Vanderbilt University 
University of Virginia 

SURAgrid evolved from the NSF NMI Testbed Grid, which was initiated as a sub-project of the NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI) Integration Testbed Program in September 2003. SURA developed and managed the NMI Integration Testbed Program for the first three years of the NMI, in partnership with Internet2 and EDUCAUSE (ANI-0123937).

"Using grids to harness the supercomputing power of some of America's finest academic institutions enhances collaboration, reduces computing time and helps scientists tackle complex challenges like hurricane prediction and human genome sequencing," said Ken King, vice president, IBM Grid Computing. "IBM is proud to have provided grid computing solutions to academic and medical research projects in the past and we're excited to be part of SURAgrid."

About Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA)

The Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA) is a consortium of over 60 leading research institutions in the southern United States and the District of Columbia established in 1980 as a non-stock, nonprofit corporation. SURA serves as an entity through which colleges, universities, and other organizations may cooperate with one another, and with government and industry in acquiring, developing, and using laboratories and other research facilities and in furthering knowledge and the application of that knowledge in the physical, biological, and other natural sciences and engineering. For more information, visit

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