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Several local high school and undergraduate students including those from Los Alamos spent their summer assembling 2,500 computers at the New Mexico Consortium to create the world’s largest large-scale, low-level systems research facility. Another group of students spent their recent winter break putting the system together.
The National Science Foundation-sponsored project, known as PRObE, will provide a highly reconfigurable, remotely accessible and controllable environment that researchers anywhere in the world can use to perform experiments that are not possible at a smaller scale.
The New Mexico Consortium (NMC) received a four-year, $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and operate a national user facility for computer science research.
Thanks in large part to the students, the facility is nearing completion on time and within budget. Andree Jacobson, Computer and Information Systems Manager at NMC, says, “There’s no way we could have done this without their (students’) help.”
The $2.75 million facility resides within the Los Alamos Research Park Building on West Jemez Road. The project integrated almost two megawatts of new power and 320 tons of new “green” cooling into the existing building to accommodate the large number of computers.
The project (Parallel Reconfigurable Observational Environment, or PRObE) will be dedicated to systems research. The computer facility allows hands-on operation of very large computing resources.
Researchers will have complete control of the hardware while they are running experiments. Researchers can inject both hardware and software failures while monitoring the system to see how it reacts to such failures. The machines are retired large clusters donated by Los Alamos National Laboratory.
“We envision this unique system will support research in many systems related fields, such as Operating Systems, Networking, Storage, Resiliency, and High End Computing,” says Jacobson.
The facility will begin full operations this spring.
The students who worked with Jacobson to complete the facility are: Martin Loncaric, Peter Song, Logan Stephenson, Horace Zhang, all current students at Los Alamos High School; James McCloskey, a Jemez Springs native attending the University of New Mexico; Casey Mortensen and Jan Durakiewicz, both New Mexico Tech students hailing from Los Alamos; Shem Nguyen and Ryan Knudsen, Albuquerque residents attending UNM; and Dov Shlachter, a Los Alamos native enrolled at the University of Washington.
PRObE is a collaborative effort by the New Mexico Consortium, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Utah, and the University of New Mexico. It is housed at NMC in the Los Alamos Research Park.
The New Mexico Consortium is a non-profit partnership of the New Mexico Universities that supports scientific research and education in New Mexico.