Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
Cloudy
52°
Cloudy
Hi 69° | Lo 42°

Cutting-edge computing center to tame ‘big data’

  • The Exterior of the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    The Exterior of the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Internal wiring in the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Internal wiring in the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • One of many rows of computers inside the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday. Each locker within each row can hold 30 or more individual computers.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    One of many rows of computers inside the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday. Each locker within each row can hold 30 or more individual computers.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Exterior of the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Internal wiring in the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • One of many rows of computers inside the new Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center in Holyoke Wednesday. Each locker within each row can hold 30 or more individual computers.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

“Holyoke’s best days are ahead of it,” Patrick said, adding that the $90 million computing center has sparked a “rebirth” of the city’s long-dormant manufacturing district, where factories once employed hundreds of workers.

Patrick “has been a big champion for western Massachusetts,” said Holyoke Mayor Alex B. Morse, adding that the center “has really been able to change the perception of the city of Holyoke.”

Holyoke proved a good location for the center because it offered an 8.6-acre site with good access to Boston, Hartford, Conn., and New York City and low-cost electricity and broadband service through the municipal utility, Holyoke Gas and Electric Co., the mayor said.

The center, a collaboration between the high-tech industry, public and private colleges and the state, provides 10 megawatts of computing technology that will be used by a consortium of colleges to conduct research.

The colleges, which each donated $10 million the project, were the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Boston and Northeastern universities.

The state earmarked $25 million for the project, while high-tech companies Cisco and EMC Corp. each kicked in $2.5 million, according to John T. Goodhue, the center’s executive director. He said the project also qualified for $10 million from the federal New Markets Tax Credit program.

The center tackles the problem of “big data” that can stymie scientific research — collecting data sets that are too large and complex for normal database management to handle. Big data is frequently encountered in the fields of meteorology, genomics and biological and environmental research.

“Big data is transforming the world,” said Jeff Nick, EMC Corp. senior vice president, adding the new Holyoke center “will rival anything that Silicon Valley has to offer” and “will drive innovation in the state.”

“Amazing things happen when you connect the previously unconnected,” said Cisco Vice President Larry Payne.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray called the center “a game changer for Holyoke, for western Massachusetts” and said it has “already paid dividends” to the city’s economy by providing jobs in construction, consulting and ancillary services.

“We’re committed to building upon all our state assets — one of them is Holyoke’s cheap power,” he said.

Former UMass President Jack Wilson said officials at Holyoke Gas and Electric “were wonderful, wonderful partners” in getting the center created.

Susan Hockfield, former president of MIT, praised Wilson as “a terrific leader at turning words into action.”

“I said, ‘Jack, I’ve got a really crazy idea,’ ” Hockfield recalled about early talks of creating a computing center consortium. “That crazy idea is now taking shape behind us,” she said, gesturing toward the 90,000-square-foot-building.

State Rep. John W. Scibak, D-South Hadley, called the center “a springboard for the region that will provide benefits for generations to come.”

“This proves that there are great things, great potential, in Massachusetts beyond the Route 495 corridor,” Scibak said.

Patrick said his administration is open to similar collaborative projects proposed anywhere in the commonwealth.

“If we get an idea and a district is anchored (to it), then the rest takes care of itself,” he said.

Etta Walsh can be reached at ewalsh.gazette@gmail.com.

Related

Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center at a glance

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center was created to allow universities to collaborate on societal and scientific challenges considered too big for any one of them to take on individually. ■ Its 10 megawatts of computing power is enough to power 5,000 to 10,000 homes. ■ The center can house up to 10,000 high-end computers and could expand by …

Comments
Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.