University of California, Davis Center to support advanced computing in public health and safety

Davis 26 October 2004Harnessing advanced computer power for public health and safety applications is the aim of the new technology centre at the University of California, Davis, established in collaboration with Sun Microsystems Inc. Sun is providing servers, computer network switches and software to the university at a steep discount over normal academic pricing, through its "Sun Centers of Excellence" programme.


"The new centre greatly enhances our capabilities for performing state-of-the-art computational studies impacting research in many different disciplines. UC Davis is very fortunate to have Sun Microsystems as a partner in harnessing information technology to tackle society's most pressing needs", stated Barry Klein, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis.

The new centre will establish a distributed, or Grid computing environment at UC Davis. Grid computing allows researchers to access and share the resources of many different computers, servers, databases and information stores regardless of their physical location. The campus already has a number of "cluster" computing systems, where numbers of identical computers are wired together to function as a single powerful computer. Grid computing will allow these clusters to work together.

"University researchers can benefit substantially from having access to such a distributed computing infrastructure", stated Bernd Hamann, professor of computer science and associate vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. The centre will provide additional computer power and resources for several existing research centres that rely on high-performance computing. They include the Computational Science and Engineering Center; the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interests of Society (CITRIS); the Institute for Data Analysis and Visualization; and the Genome Center.

Research that will benefit from the centre includes: developing computational models to predict earthquakes; using distributed networks of environmental sensors to address problems such as transportation, natural disasters and climate change; creating "virtual reality" environments and powerful data analysis technology that allows scientists to interpret their data; and studies in genomics and bioinformatics. The computing Grid created by the centre will allow researchers in these groups to easily access and use each others' resources, according to Bernd Hamann.

Leslie Versweyveld

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