Purdue University will be replacing its current research computing clusters on May 5th with one of the world's largest supercomputers. While this isn't especially surprising at a school known for its computer science expertise, the funding model and installation are far more novel.
Interestingly, the supercomputer, consisting of 812 Dell dual quad-core computer nodes with peak performance of more than 60 teraflops, is only 25% funded by the school's IT department. The remaining 75% of the cost comes from the pooled resources of 25 research groups on campus that will use the supercomputer. According to a writeup in insideindianabusiness.com,
“The community approach is a new and cost-effective way to fund cyberinfrastructure on campuses...This approach not only maximizes resources at Purdue, but researchers across the nation will benefit from the unused cycles which will be available on the TeraGrid.”
As parodied in the video embedded above (created by Purdue staff), the installation of this supercomputer will also be unique. While many of the nodes are already in testing and limited usage, the majority of the computer will be assembled by 200 employees on a single day. Those involved in the installation are committed to minimizing downtime for the researchers who use the schools compute clusters for "designing new drugs and materials, modeling weather patterns and the effects of global warming, engineering future aircraft, and making many more discoveries."