Local Universities Quietly Open $30 Million Computing Center

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Generally speaking, when major universities team up to open something like a new $30 million computing center, there’s fanfare and ribbon-cutting and lots and lots of photos. But this month, when Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland open their new jointly-run computing center in East Baltimore, there will be very little brouhaha.

That’s in part because the new computing center — the Maryland Advanced Research Computing Center or MARCC if you want to get familiar — is more of a behind-the-scenes operation. It’s not so much a computer lab as a storage space for the high-tech fiber optic equipment and server storage that today’s researchers need in order to be able to do some serious data crunching. The equipment includes 19,000 processors and 17 petabytes of storage capacity. To put that in perspective: The Internet Archive, an open-source digital library that includes the Wayback Machine’s 150 billion web captures and a giant book digitization project, hit 15 petabytes last year.

According to the Hopkins Hub, the new processing setup will allow astrophysicists, genome analyzers, and other scientists to handle data-processing tasks that used to take days instead in a manner of hours.

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