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Fred Hutchinson Center Wins $10.1M for Pair of Computing Projects

This report was originally posted May 28 and updated on June 7 to include additional information and comment from the Hutchinson Center's Tony Bozzuti.

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle has been awarded $10.1 million in federal funds toward a pair of projects designed to improve its computing facilities and capabilities.

The center was approved for a $9.6 million stimulus grant toward constructing a 2,300-square-foot core data center designed to increase its high-performance storage capacity by 50 percent, and is scheduled to begin operations by late 2012.

The Hutchinson Center now houses more than 1,000 servers in seven locations on campus, as well as another 250 servers off-site in Tukwila, Wash. The project will not necessarily result in consolidation of the facilities, Tony Bozzuti, the Hutchinson Center's vice president of information technology and chief information officer, told GenomeWeb Daily News on June 4.

"While we do have a roadmap for consolidation, we're also going to be flexible about it, depending on whether or not we need any of the other locations as we grow the need for compute power and storage," Bozzuti said.

Being off campus, the Tekwila facility "would be the first to go" if the facilities were to be consolidated, he added, in order to save the lease costs of the off-campus facility.

The Hutchinson Center will submit a design for the data center to the NCCR by the end of July, according to Bozzuti.

The Center's data storage systems were designed in the late 1990s, when information technology equipment required more space, but less power, than current counterparts.

"About two years ago, we realized the exponential growth of the center's research data would, in the foreseeable future, exceed the institution's capacity to cool and thereby safeguard, our computing and data storage systems," Dirk Petersen, systems project manager in the Hutchinson Center's public health sciences division said in a detailed announcement of the computing projects posted on its website. "The demand for more computational processing power was growing. The acquisition of new servers would require four times the center's current capacity for cooling and protecting data."

Bozzuti said the building's current electric power capacity of 500 kilowatts would be doubled.

"The questions remain: As we assess capacity over the next 18 to 24 months, the question is, can we fold in the existing data centers, or do we need to also scale out?" Bozutti said.

Funding for the data center was awarded by the National Institutes of Health using a portion of the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Also awarded by NIH was a $500,000 instrumentation grant toward the purchase of a high-performance computing cluster that will support more than 30 groups in 13 different research programs at the Hutchinson Center. The center said those programs include protein folding, flow cytometry, infectious disease and HIV modeling, proteomics, genome-wide association studies, and high-throughput sequencing.

"The cluster will increase processing power, memory capacity and reliability, while speeding biomedical research in fields using computer-focused approaches," the Hutchinson Center said in its announcement.

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