University of Nebraska-Lincoln seeks $ 75 million for expansion of HPC, Center for Agricultural Research

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is seeking $ 75 million in federal relief funds to advance two proposals: a $ 50 million expansion of its Holland Computing Center and $ 25 million for a related facility to promote agricultural partnerships public-private.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was among dozens of other organizations that requested allocations from the Nebraska legislature last week, all seeking to advance top priorities through the use of allocated COVID-19 relief funds. through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which came into effect in March of this year.

The law is expected to allocate about $ 1 billion to Nebraska to help repair the economic and societal damage caused by the pandemic. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for its part, presents its proposals as cornerstones for the advancement of Nebraska’s industry, particularly its agricultural sector.

“Our proposals will directly support the future of agriculture in Nebraska by supporting cutting-edge research to advance precision agriculture and more resilient crops,” said Ronnie Green, chancellor of the University, in a interview with Troy Fedderson of the University. “We will also provide additional high-speed computing resources to Nebraska companies and our researchers, with a specific focus on the growing opportunities for using artificial intelligence and critical cybersecurity needs. “

Both projects would be located on the University’s Nebraska Innovation Campus. The $ 50 million investment in HPC capacity would fit into the University-hosted National Institute for Strategic Research, which is a “non-profit research institute sponsored by the US Strategic Command that strives to ensure the security and preparedness of the United States against increasingly sophisticated threats ”. The university says the expansion of supercomputers could also benefit areas such as machine learning, data science, manufacturing research, and medical research.

The $ 25 million farming facility, meanwhile, which would also use matching funds, would connect to the USDA’s National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture and house researchers and startups.

“The accompanying facility will allow us to leverage our cutting-edge research and make it commercially viable more quickly, putting it in the hands of Nebraska crop and livestock producers,” Green said. “And, coupled with the expansion of the Holland Computing Center, we will have significantly improved capabilities in precision agriculture, enabling producers to harness data and make decisions in real time.”

The last time the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was ranked in the Top500 was in 2013, when its 150 teraflop Linpack “Crane” system briefly climbed to 475th place. Eight years later, Crane is still in service, alongside the “Rhino” HPC cluster (itself using nodes from two earlier systems), the “Red” cluster (equipped with more than 10PB of storage) and the “Anvil” cloud platform.

Header Image: the Nebraska Innovation Campus. Image courtesy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Lana T. Arthur