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“Boomer,” the fastest academic supercomputer in state history, was deployed today at the University of Oklahoma.

“The deployment of the state’s fastest supercomputer in state history will further enhance OU’s academic excellence,” said OU President David L. Boren.

The supercomputer clocks in at a peak speed of roughly 109 trillion calculations per second and supports OU’s research initiatives.

“This new supercomputer represents an incredible opportunity for OU,” said Loretta Early, OU’s Chief Information Officer and University Vice President for Information Technology. “Boomer will substantially expand OU’s ability to engage in cutting-edge, computing-intensive research—to do more, and to do it faster and better, at a lower cost.”

Researchers will employ Boomer to compute large amounts of data for a broad variety of research with emphasis on weather forecasting, molecular dynamics and high-energy physics, which explores the fundamental nature of matter and energy. Boomer also will support research in astronomy, coastal flooding, biomedical engineering, data encoding for disk drives, petroleum engineering, nanotechnology, groundwater contamination, biofuels, and wireless networks, among many other areas.

Henry Neeman, Director of the OU Supercomputing Center for Education and Research, a division of OU Information Technology, said that OU IT focuses on the needs of researchers at a level that is almost unprecedented nationally even among top research universities.

“For the past decade, OU has been a national leader in supporting the computational research and education needs of local students, faculty and staff,” Neeman said. “We’re extremely proud to expand a great tradition with this fourth generation OU IT supercomputer, which will enhance research capabilities by connecting scientific collaborators throughout the state and nation.”

Boomer is three times as fast as the previous fastest academic supercomputer in the state, OU’s “Sooner,” which served hundreds of undergraduates, graduate students, staff and faculty from 2008 to early 2012. It’s also 100 times as fast as OU IT’s first supercomputer, built in 2002.

OneNet, Oklahoma’s statewide research, education and government network, will deliver Boomer’s capabilities from OU IT’s high-speed campus network to OU research teams, and 24 other Oklahoma institutions and more than 150 out-of-state and international collaboratorswill also be connected through OneNet.

“We’re very proud of our role in facilitating research, one of OU’s key missions and a crucial engine for statewide economic development,” Early said. “With this new resource, we improve our potential to attract a growing number of research projects and increase external funding, and therefore attract and retain the best and brightest researchers, both faculty and students. Boomer is both a logical next step and a major breakthrough for researchers on campus.”

In addition, Boomer will connect to the Oklahoma PetaStore, which has the capacity to store multiple Petabytes (millions of Gigabytes) of research data, allowing OU researchers to create and maintain very large research data collections.

Keith Brewster, acting Director of the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, is looking forward to improving forecasting models with Boomer’s capabilities. “Severe weather, including tornadoes and hurricanes, kills hundreds of people and destroys billions of dollars of property every year. OU's new supercomputer will help us to improve forecasts of these events, allowing us to resolve features half the size we could resolve previously.”

Making large-scale, accessible and professionally managed advanced computing capability available to OU’s researchers also ensures that investigators will meet the requirements of federal research funding programs. Through deployment of Boomer, the University’s goal is to strengthen OU’s grant applications, leading to improved outcomes for researchers, students and Oklahoma’s economy.

Photo by Jawanza Bassue, OU student.