Darkstrand Adds Another HPC Institution to Network

Darkstrand, which is looking to create a high-speed network that will link major corporations to HPC institutions around the country, has signed up the National Center for Supercomputing Applications to its growing list of partners. The move means that Fortune 500 corporations with projects that need HPC resources can access the center's clusters, which include technologies from Dell, IBM, SGI and Intel.

Darkstrand, which is building out a high-speed network aimed at linking businesses to high-performance computing resources at institutions around the country, is signing up another partner.

Darkstrand Aug. 6 announced a partnership with NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The center deploys HPC resources and develops technologies, and partners with major corporations through its Private Sector Program. Participating in the program are such businesses as Boeing, John Deere, Dell, IBM, Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble.

NCSA has been around for more than 20 years working with businesses in such areas as data management, cyber-security, advanced IT and visualization.

It also is working with IBM, the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computing and the National Science Foundation in building Blue Waters, which-when it goes online in 2011-will be the most powerful supercomputer in the world, offering sustained petaflop (1,000 trillion floating point operations per second) capabilities.

The goal of Darkstrand is to offer a high-speed network that removes the issue of bandwidth from the process of developing new products and gives Fortune 500-size businesses access to HPC resources that help speed the time to market. Through the new partnership with NCSA, corporations can get faster access to the center's HPC resources, according to Darkstrand CEO Michael Stein.

"Darkstrand is in the business of enabling companies to accomplish things they would have been unable to do before," Stein said in a statement.

In May 2008, Darkstrand, a 3-year-old company, won the right to commercialize a large part of the NLR (National LambdaRail), a federally funded high-speed, 15,000-mile optical network that connects universities and research facilities in 30 cities throughout the United States. The network-connecting a consortium of U.S. universities, scientific institutions and regional networks, and built with technology from Cisco Systems-was created in the 1990s for research purposes in such areas as science, engineering and medicine.

Darkstrand officials have said the Internet, as it's currently built, can't handle the workloads some of these corporate HPC projects bring. The NLR can support the demand.

Darkstrand has a host of other partners on its network, including the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology-or Calit2-at the University of California, San Diego; the New Mexico Computing Applications Center; and the Ohio Supercomputing Center. In May, the company announced a partnership with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

NCSA is the latest addition. The center offers two Intel-based clusters from Dell, an IBM Linux cluster also based on Intel technology, and an Altix system from SGI. The center also offers users a permanent archival storage system and high-speed parallel file systems on each HPC platform, and third-party applications and performance tools are available in such areas as chemistry, computational biology and computational fluid dynamics.