Students build world's first experimental super computer

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LANL: Full operations are expected to start in the spring

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.