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Research Computing and Data at NIU

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NIU scientists acquired a new high-performance computer cluster in February 2012 intending to exponentially ramp up on-campus capabilities to sort and analyze large quantities of research data.

The hybrid GPU/CPU supercomputer has a capacity of more than 30 teraflops, meaning it can do more than 30 trillion calculations per second. It has opened up opportunities for faculty researchers in a wide of array disciplines and for students interested in supercomputing.

In terms of speed, memory and storage capacity, the computer cluster ranks among the top 600 supercomputers worldwide. 

The supercomputer initiative grew out of a medical-imaging project led by John Lewis of the Northern Illinois Proton Treatment and Research Center. That project aims to advance Proton Computed Tomography, or pCT, which uses proton beams to produce medical images for proton therapy, a precise form of radiation treatment for cancer.

The cost of the computer cluster was about $843,000, with most of the funding coming from the proton-imaging project. Physics Professor Emeritus Clyde Kimball also contributed a portion of the funding he received for nanotechnology-related research that also requires high-performance computing.

The supercomputing initiative also included assistance from Argonne National Laboratory scientists and NIU's Division of Information Technology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships.