Beocat is the king of the state’s computer jungle once again.
K-State recently added on to its supercomputer, a large collection of servers used for research computation, located in the College of Engineering, to regain its title as the largest academic supercomputer in the state.
Dan Andresen, director of the K-State’s Institute of Computational Research, said Beocat recently regained its status because of a deal he got to purchase 120 servers from a company in Lawrence. The company made the servers for another project that could not afford them. So K-State got the $7,000 servers at a discounted price of $1,200 each.
Beocat has grown to approximately 2.2 petabytes, which are 1,000 times larger than a terabyte, of storage with 1 terabyte of RAM. Andresen said the computer is made up of about $2.8 million of hardware.
By increasing the size of the computer, Beocat has surpassed the size of the University of Kansas’ supercomputer, Andresen said.
“It enables me to cheerfully tease my KU counterparts,” he said. “They have another buy (of servers) lined up and will probably lead us in the next three or four months, but in the meantime we have fun.”
Beocat allows researchers to run large-data computer programs for research purposes. Because of the highly technical information of research projects — such as how human cells react to diabetes treatments or examining how the human brain changes throughout a lifetime — the programs use large amounts of data and often do not run well on personal computers of the researchers.
“It can become a really big hammer,” he said.
In one case, a researcher asked if she could use Beocat because her program researching cattle genomes was “running a little long” on her own computer.
“She said ‘my guesstimate is it’s going to take 413 years,’” Andresen said. “That’s a little long.... Within about a week of our student teams working on it we got an 82 million time speed up, and one data set went from a week long (to process) to 34 seconds.
“She was so happy,” he added.
Andresen said the computer is used for research purposes across the university and is also available to researchers of other universities and private companies.
“It impacts the real world educationally, and besides it’s really fun,” he said.