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US puts $150m more behind mega science grid

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The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has put another $150m behind an extensive supercomputer network in the hopes of giving huge amounts of horsepower to more scientists.

The fresh funds will go toward a five-year build out of the Extensible Terascale Facility (ETF) - or TeraGrid. This grid links powerful computers in California, Texas, the Midwest and Pennsylvania. Researchers can submit their work for computation on the system, and the NSF hopes more will do so with a larger grid at their disposal.

"Many new users from a range of scientific communities will now have access to sophisticated IT applications and computational tools. Over time, these applications will be customized to the needs of the individual or community," said NSF Director, Arden L. Bement, Jr.

The TeraGrid project began four years ago and serves as a type of sophisticated link between computer scientists and researchers in other fields. Some of the research done on the TeraGrid includes decoding genomes, mapping the brain and weather forecasting - the usual array of supercomputer workloads.

A $48m chunk of the new grant will go to the University of Chicago, which plans to oversee the construction and maintenance of the grid. The other $100m will be split between eight sites.

"TeraGrid's creators and collaborators are developing a 'science gateways' initiative to allow more researchers and educators access to TeraGrid capabilities, tailored to their own communities, through their own desktop computers," the NSF said. "Science gateway projects are aimed at supporting access to TeraGrid via web portals, desktop applications or via other grids. An initial set of 10 gateways will address new scientific opportunities in fields from bioinformatics to nanotechnology as well as interoperation between TeraGrid and other grid infrastructures."

More information on the project is available here. ®

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