University of Minnesota boosts complex research with ultra-fast supercomputer

The University of Minnesota announced today it has expanded its capacity for high-performance computing research with the addition of its newest and fastest supercomputer.

Named “Mesabi,” the supercomputer will increase the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute’s infrastructure for running complex research operations, while also extending the total number of research projects the institute can support at once. The system is projected to be one of the five fastest supercomputers used for academic purposes in the country, running about 3,864 times faster than a typical personal computer.

“Mesabi will ensure our researchers have the world-class computing technology they need to push the boundaries of knowledge in their fields,” said Brian Herman, Ph.D., the U’s vice president for research. “We are excited to see how this supercomputer contributes to their research efforts and we anticipate the great advancements in knowledge that will result.”

Following the technical specifications determined by a committee of university faculty and information technology leaders, the supercomputer was custom-designed by Hewlett Packard and includes an Intel processor, a low-latency Mellanox network and advanced NVidia graphics. Mesabi is also equipped with a large supply of memory, making it especially well-suited for running the computationally demanding DNA sequencing programs that power genetics research.

“As our researchers’ high-performance computing needs grow, the U of M is committed to developing the infrastructure and services that will advance and support their research,” said Claudia Neuhauser, Ph.D, director of the U’s Informatics Institute and interim director of MSI. “As our newest and most powerful supercomputer, Mesabi enables researchers to handle more complex and massive scientific data sets than ever before. Many researchers have already demonstrated their interest in using this system for ongoing projects, and we look forward to its application in future research.”

In addition to serving the needs of university researchers, the new system will also offer opportunities for industry use. MSI offers a number of resources and services for external companies that need to process large research data sets but do not possess in-house the expensive equipment needed to perform the operations.

The name “Mesabi,” which means “immense mountain” in Ojibwe, continues MSI’s tradition of naming its supercomputers after the state’s natural resources. The Mesabi Range is the largest iron ore deposit in northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range. Mesabi will join some of MSI’s existing high end supercomputers to help attract new research funding, aid researchers in making scientific breakthroughs and contribute to findings that benefit society through the advancement of knowledge.

The Minnesota Supercomputing Institute will celebrate Mesabi’s completion with a dedication ceremony following its 2015 Research Exhibition. As part of the event, MSI staff will take visitors on a tour to see Mesabi and learn about its capabilities. The event will be held from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, 2015, on Walter Library’s 4th floor. Contact with any questions.

For more information on the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, visit

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