The Ohio Supercomputing Center (OSC) has announced the launch of its new supercomputer, Ascend.

The OSC is a statewide resource providing high performance computing (HPC) services and expertise to Ohio university researchers and Ohio industries.

The new supercomputer will triple the OSC’s current computing capabilities with their Ptizer and Owens systems, which currently offer 5.5 petaflops. It will also add to the Ptizer and Owens' 14.2 petabytes of disk storage capacity and more than 14 petabytes of expandable backup storage.

Dell wasn't specific, but said Ascend will 'add additional petaflops of performance' to the center's capabilities. It is expected to be available in Fall 2022.

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Doug Johnson, associate director of OSC said of the new installation: “Over the last few years, OSC has experienced a growing demand for its GPU resources.

“By establishing a cluster focused on analysis of very large datasets quickly, support for classes of AI/ML applications that can’t run on our current systems, and simulations that require the fastest GPUs, OSC will better meet the needs of these clients while ensuring the prompt processing of requests for our existing clusters, Owens and Pitzer."

The Ascend system is the center’s first GPU-specific cluster, comprised of Dell PowerEdge servers with 48 AMD Epyc CPUs and 96 Nvidia A100 80GB Tensor Cores GPUs and interconnected by the Nvidia Quantum 200Gb/s InfiniBand platform. Ascend will support artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and data analytics work.

“Dell Technologies is working with the Ohio Supercomputer Center to help industry and academic researchers pioneer in their respective fields with the latest in advanced computing technology and expertise,” says Rajesh Pohani, vice president of PowerEdge, Core Compute and High Performance Computing, Dell Technologies. “Ascend’s AI capabilities, enhanced by powerful PowerEdge XE8545 servers, will complement and significantly expand the advanced computing resources essential to engineering innovation and scientific discovery that is ultimately helping to move forward human progress.”

The OSC has customers from a variety of industries, and its supercomputers have helped with architecture simulation, ecological networks, computational chemistry, and other research.

The OSC is involved in two National Science Foundation-funded projects focused on AI work, including the AI Institute for intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with computational Learning in the Environment (ICICLE), which is working to make AI more accessible.

Ascend, named after Ohio state’s long history of technological developments in the aviation and aeronautics industry, will enable significant developments for the ICICLE team.

Karen Tomko, OSC director of research software applications said: “Ascend will provide a state-of-the-art resource for the ICICLE research team to explore and develop new AI technologies while also giving our staff an opportunity to increase their understanding of the AI workload and best practices for support of this growing area.”

The center is also intending to offer an ‘AI Bootcamp for Cyberinfrastructure Professionals’ to help build expertise in the industry.

The OSC will announce a detailed timeline for the Ascend launch and availability this summer.

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