Skip to Page Content


Demand for Research Computing Resources Continues to Grow

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The demand for research computing resources for faculty and researchers at the University of Georgia continues to grow, Vice President for Information Technology, Timothy M. Chester, said during his annual State of Technology address.

“We need high-performance computing resources that not only meet the needs of faculty and researchers in traditional computational sciences, but also those researchers in informatics and data sciences,” Chester said during the annual address, held November 15 at the UGA Chapel.

Chester said the needs of these faculty and researchers may differ depending on their area of research. The Georgia Advanced Computing Resources Center (GACRC) is exploring ways to help those faculty who need high-performance storage, as well as to continue to meet the needs of faculty doing CPU intensive computational research.  

“Over the next year, you’ll see two different tiers of services at the GACRC: one for those faculty in areas like the basic sciences, who are focused on intensive computational research, and one for faculty in bioinformatics and data sciences, who need the cluster for storage. They have unique and diverging needs and we want a good environment for both of them.”

The GACRC has one high-performance computing cluster, Sapelo, that is currently being rebuilt with new cluster management software that will improve usability, performance and security. The rebuilt HPC cluster will be relaunched as Sapelo2 at the end of the year.

The GACRC’s faculty buy-in program, supported by a matching program investing EITS resources, is in its fourth year and has been popular among faculty. The program provides dedicated access for participating researchers while growing GACRC’s shared infrastructure.

Over the past year, Chester said the GACRC has also “doubled-down” on training for using the cluster, offering dozens of workshops to more than 1,000 researchers and graduate students. However, faculty also need advisory services for using data visualization effectively, Chester said, and the Office of Institutional Research is assessing ways to provide that necessary guidance.

“A way to improve training and tools, and make available a wide variety of support services so that faculty receive the kind of assistance they need, is something we will be looking at very closely over the next year,” Chester said.

During the address, Chester also addressed technology milestones and goals in other areas, including:

  • Continued growth in the university’s internet usage and the number of wireless devices on campus. The University’s internet usage has increased from 1.36 gigabits consumed in September 2011 to 10.13 gigabits consumed in November 2017. The number of wireless devices on the University’s wireless network has also increased to almost 100,000 devices. Chester said there are plans in the next three to five years to invest between $5 and $7 million in the network to increase capacity, refresh aging equipment and install new wireless access points across campus.
  • Upgrades to student systems to make them more mobile-friendly. Banner, the university’s student information system will undergo an upgrade to its user interface in the next year, which will make the system more modern and more mobile-friendly. In addition, eLearning Commons will be updated to the new Daylight interface at the end of the fall semester, which will make it easier to use the learning management system on a mobile device.
  • The upcoming replacement of the university’s finance, human resources and payroll systems with the new PeopleSoft system, beginning in the spring of 2018. PeopleSoft applications for finance will be deployed at the university level; UGA will join the University System of Georgia for a shared system for payroll and HR functions. “Anyone who gets a paycheck or receives healthcare benefits from the university is going to be touched by this change,” Chester said.