The faster network connectivity will enable researchers to take full advantage of the new $70 million HiPerGator AI supercomputer. The university wants to drive innovation with cutting-edge AI research and prepare the next-generation workforce with necessary AI skills, Eldayrie says.
In fact, the university is currently integrating AI across its curricula and hiring 100 additional faculty members focused on AI. “HiPerGator AI helps amplify and accelerate our work in AI,” he says.
HiPerGator AI, launched in early 2021, is a turnkey AI supercomputer made up of more than 140 Nvidia DGX servers, each with 2.5 petabytes of flash storage. The new AI supercomputer, which is paired with UF’s existing general purpose HiPerGator 3.0 supercomputer, delivers a combined 700 petaflops of performance.
However, data-intensive workloads can easily overwhelm the network and create a bottleneck that can slow performance, which is why building a new high-speed network is critical, Eldayrie says.
The faster network, which is expected to go live during the spring 2022 semester, will optimize supercomputer performance and facilitate research.
“As data grows, the network has to grow with it,” he says.
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Adjusting Network Bandwidth on the Fly
The University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, Mich., is also building a new core network that will provide up to a tenfold performance increase for research, teaching and learning, and other campus activities, including access to research archives, says Ravi Pendse, UM’s CIO and vice president for IT.
Researchers, faculty and staff all have different bandwidth needs. Users currently with 1Gbps or 10Gbps will be able to get 100Gbps, while users with 100Gbps will be able to get several hundred gigabits per second, he says.
“Our new architecture supports diverse needs and takes care of our brilliant scientists and our outstanding students and staff,” Pendse says. “Before, we were limited in how many 100-gig connections we could provide. Now, we have the flexibility to scale as needs increase.”
UM’s IT team has laid new fiber across campus and is using software-defined networking concepts via configurable fabrics to build the new core network. Through software-controllable network gear and homegrown automation software, the IT staff can provision network resources and scale up and down as researchers and other users require, he says.
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For example, researchers who typically require 10Gb speeds at their labs may need 100Gb speeds for six months. IT administrators can remotely configure the higher speeds.
“After six months, when the researcher doesn’t need the bandwidth anymore, we can virtually deprovision that link down and give the bandwidth to somebody else who needs it,” Pendse says.
The network provisioning process could take a few minutes to a few hours, which is much faster than in the past, when it could take up to six months to plan and deploy new cabling and networking equipment, he says.
UM began the $10.1 million project in the fall of 2019 and plans to go live with the new network in late spring 2022. Once complete, it will have a huge impact for researchers, Pendse says.
“As Michigan’s researchers need more bandwidth, we can quickly adapt the network and provide them the environment they need to get their research done,” he says.