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Green power boosts collaboration in Massachusetts

MGHPCC Photo courtesy Steve Todd.

The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), in partnership with Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Northeastern University, recently opened its doors in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The five universities will share 130 research positions, consolidating operations in the center. The collaboration also includes state government and industry partners Cisco and EMC2.

To facilitate research among the universities, the Massachusetts government awarded seed grants prior to the center's opening, and set aside funding for additional seed grants in January 2013. Selected projects span three areas of computing: computers as a tool for scientific discovery, development of application software enabling new types of research, and computer science research pointing toward next-generation exascale systems.

The 90,000-square-foot (8,400m2) facility carries a $168 million price tag - and, with a power capacity of 15 megawatts, you may be wondering just how the facility qualifies as green. The MGHPCC sits barely a mile from Holyoke's municipally run dam, which supplies non-greenhouse gas producing hydroelectric power. Estimates predict that more than 70% of the center's power needs will be met by this green energy.

With the lowest cost of power in the state, Holyoke is poised to become the core of scientific advancement by the state's five most research-intensive universities. In addition to supporting established researchers and scientists, goals for the center include using the MGHPCC facility as a laboratory for investigating clean energy and the environment, as well as energy-efficient design for high-performance computing centers. Ultimately, the center's overarching goal is to improve its own performance, serving as a model for collaborative green computing research across the US.

- Amber Harmon

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