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West Campus News  


March/April 2011 
High Performance Computing

Interview with David Frioni, Yale ITS, HPC Site Manager 

By Lisa M. Maloney


I sat down with Dave Frioni to uncover the mysteries of High Performance Computing.  These are some excerpts from that chat: 


What is HPC . . . really?


"High Performance Computing is basically the ability to run computations across many processors in parallel instead of having all the computations performed on a single processor. This has the advantage of dramatically reducing the time it takes to achieve results."    

When and why did it become necessary?


"When is hard to answer. There is research that has been leveraging high performance computing for a long time. There are also many disciplines that are just recently realizing that HPC can provide them with huge advantages as well."

What are your biggest challenges?


"One of our biggest challenges currently is keeping pace with deploying and supporting the massive amounts of data storage required for today's research."


Is storage the right word to use? 


"Yes, high performance storage is a big component of most HPC clusters, as are processing cores and networking."

Why do people need to know about HPC?


"It can provide a tool to dramatically reduce the time it takes to achieve results, thus, allowing much more research to be performed in a shorter period of time."


What is the basic difference between regular Data Center storage and HPC storage?  




Can we make a simple comparison, so the lay person understands the concept of a billion terabytes of space!


"A billion terabytes is beyond what is realistic today. A good lay person comparison is: 


1 million gigabytes = ~1 petabyte

1 thousand terabytes = ~1 petabyte


Many people are still walking around with 1-gigabyte USB flash drives. Many people buy a 1-terabyte USB drive to backup their home computer or to store pictures and music collections on. However, it is not only about the amount of storage, it is about the speed at which the devices can read and write data."


Give me the Wikipedia version of this technology that is not too technical! 


"High Performance Computing started over 30 years ago and consisted of purpose-built proprietary systems--supercomputers. These systems do still exist, but have typically been cost prohibitive for common research efforts.


In the 1990s, off the shelf-computer systems and networking technologies, combined with advances in software, matured enough to be able to string a bunch of these together and significantly increase computing performance at a fraction of the cost of a proprietary supercomputer. This trend has continued and most of the fastest computer systems today are modeled after this design."

When I walk through the center it reminds me of an episode of the TV sci-fi series the X-Files.  


"I have never watched an episode of X-Files. Much of the technology used in distributed HPC clusters is COTS or commercial off-the-shelf and are the same hardware used in common data centers, but at a much larger scale. HPC tends to be early adopters to technologies that offer performance. Unlike enterprise data centers, advantages gained in performance typically outweigh the maturity or stability of the technology. HPC likes to push the envelope, while enterprise requires pure stability and uptime."  


HPC Dave

 Dave Frioni managing the HPC clusters.






Yale School of Forestry Students at West Campus

Forestry students assess the West Campus landscape.

Last semester, the School of Forestry offered two landscape management courses that focused on the West Campus grounds--Ecological Urbanism and Management Plans for Protected Areas.  

The management plan seminar, taught by Professor Mark Ashton, had four forestry students walking and closely observing the West Campus grounds--documenting land use, researching land history, zoning and mapping.  They assessed soils, vegetation, wildlife habitat and surveyed West Campus faculty, staff and students. After collecting and analyzing all their data, the students developed a land management plan for the forest, adjacent undeveloped green areas and some developed areas (i.e., parking lots) at West Campus.  


Their assessment took several months and began with a walking tour of the entire campus. They then met with key stakeholders to understand the different perspectives and goals for the property.  Next they gathered input from West Campus administration, community education, and grounds maintenance. 


Part of the overall land assessment includes separating the property into "stands."  To do this, they identified tracts of land that have commonalities. They were surprised by the ecological diversity of the campus. "For instance, one stand is a very young forest (20 years old), whereas another stand is a very old forest.  Another younger stand had very few trees, and instead had mainly herbaceous species and shrubs.  Yet another stand was a wetland," says Andrew Breck, MF '11.  The distinctions are based on: soils, hydrology, vegetation, past land use, and topography.  


In mid-December, the students presented their findings and offered over 20 recommendations for land use and storm water management. A few of their top recommendations include: maintaining and enchancing the wild meadows and scrub lands on West Campus;  designating minimally maintained lawn areas (i.e., no-mow zones); increasing the number of picnic tables and outdoor community spaces; and extending the current trail system.  We've invited the students to present their land management plan at a West Campus Brown Bag Lunch and hope to have that scheduled soon. 


forestry students

Yale Forestry Students  (L to R) Meredith Cowart, Andrew Breck, Max Piana and Grant Tolley.

The students wanted me to extend a "VERY BIG THANK YOU" to all the folks at West Campus who helped them gather all the data needed for their assessment and land management plan.


New and Improved Support Services
New Automated On-site Freezer Program

Administrators from West Campus, the Yale Stockroom and Yale Procurement teamed together to bring this new program to West Campus. West Campus researchers now have immediate, on-site, 24-7 access to Roche reagents, including molecular, cellular analysis, genomics, protein expression, end-point PCR, real-time PCR and enzymes.  To use this service, register at https://login.roche-prime-supply.com.  After registration, a user name and password will be provided.  Placing an order is simple. You will have real-time access to inventory and be able to procure any Roche reagent either from stock or on special order.  Convenient ordering online from your bench or desk, and for pick up just walk to the basement of WB-24 where the freezer is located.  Use this program for better pricing and free shipping. For more information on the program, please email yasmine.tebha@roche.com.

Improved West Campus Purple Line Shuttle Schedule


Working with several focus groups consisting of shuttle and non-shuttle users, we recently updated our West Campus Shuttle Schedule.  One major challenge when designing this new schedule was the purple line does not run in a loop.  At 8 a.m., purple line shuttle #1 leaves Lot 22/Science Hill and Purple Line #2 leaves West Campus.  Until 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday they pass each other on I-95 going in opposite directions.  If this sounds confusing, it was challenging to represent it visually.  With the help of Yale Printing and Publishing Services Designers--Peter Johnson and Lynne Reichentahl--our new shuttle schedule is easier to read and understand, especially for those new to Yale.


For a copy of the new schedule, click here. 


cowdog shuttle

The West Campus Purple Line shuttle.


West Campus Peabody Community Education Center
Winter Update from Tom Parlapiano.

  • While weather related school cancellations have forced many of our classes to be rescheduled, the Peabody Education Center has been able to sneak in a few 3rd grade classes from West Haven's Mackrille and Forest Elementary schools to debut their Rocks & Minerals Program.  "It has received high marks from teachers, especially the hands-on lab segment in which students test various minerals to determine their properties," says Program Coordinator Tom Parlapiano.


  • The Connecticut Natural Science Illustrators have begun their second session of classes on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings for adults of all skill levels.  Current offerings include Fundamentals of Natural Science Illustration and Botanical Illustration in Watercolor. 


  • Summer Camp registrations have begun!  The Community Education Center will host three weeklong camps this year, followed by a weeklong institute for Science Pathways students from New Haven area middle and high schools.  Camps begin August 1st.  Information and on-line registration can be found on the Peabody Museum's Events webpage at http://www.peabody.yale.edu/events.



West Campus in Wintertime photo by Jeff Evans

West Campus Multi-Media
Experience the seasons at West Campus - spring.


Hoping for an early spring? Check out this short video featuring a group of students looking for salamanders and other creatures living in and around the Oyster River.  Filmed during spring 2009 at the West Campus, this video is sponsored by West Campus and the Peabody Museum of Natural History.  It focuses on environmental education at West Campus as seen through the prism of the passing seasons. 


Hot Competition at the 1st Annual West Campus Chili Cook-Off
Great turnout, fifteen chilis entered, homemade desserts and some surprise winners!
The February 18th event was a great success; fifteen crockpots full of chili were entered into the competition and about 70 people showed up to taste them!  A few volunteer cooks brought desserts to round out the menu. Competition was fierce--AND DELICIOUS. We had five winners:
  • 1st Place - Smack Your Momma - Stacia Bowers, Yale Custodial    
  • 2nd Place - Moose Meat Chili - Daniel Drew, Yale Peabody Museum
  • 3rd Place - Mystery Chili - Amoy Kong, Yale Security
  • Spiciest - Smack Your Momma - Stacia Bowers, Yale Custodial
  • Best Vegetarian - Winter Vegetable Chili - Lisa Maloney, West Campus Administration
Some other tasty entrants: 
Blackbean Espresso Chili, made by Sheila Umlauf, contained espresso and cinnamon!  Cincinnati Chili, made by Janie Merkel, contained all spice and is eaten layered with spaghetti and cheddar cheese--yum. Cattle Drive 1976 made by the Bright Horizon pre-schoolers was topped with Fritos!  The Wimpiest Chili this side of the Mississippi by Sue Turbert and made with ground turkey, was the first to be completely eaten! Fire Engine Chili, made by Jessica Slawski, was made with chucks of spicy beef and the smell of cayenne pepper could be detected at 10 paces!
BIG THANKS! to all the cooks who participated including:
Janie Merkel, Laura Abriola, Becky DeAngelo, Tim White, Jacqueline Parker, Donna Hall, Jessica Slawski, Sheila Umlauf, John Civitelli,  Sue Turbert and the Bright Horizon Preschoolers. 
See you next year!!!
chili cook off
Winners Stacia Bowers, Best and Spiciest and Lisa Maloney, Best Veggie Photo by Jeff Evans
yale logo  

West Campus Events 

Brown Bag Lunch Series April 20 & May 4
WB-25 Cafeteria
12 noon to 1:00 p.m.


Lynn Jones of the Peabody Museum talks about "Integrated Pest Management in Museum Settings." 
Patricia Kane, Yale University Art Gallery presents "Lost Treasures of Yale Architecture at West Campus."
All are welcome!

Yoga Classes Next Session

May 10 - June 28
12 noon


Yoga classes are offered Tuesdays  at 12 noon.  For more information contact, merieta.bayati@yale.edu.

All are welcome!

For information on holding an event at West Campus:
To book a tour or event in building WB-25, please contact Sharon Finkenauer at 203-737-4036 or email her at sharon.finkenauer@yale.edu.


      WB-25 Auditorium


West Campus News:
Lisa Maloney & Stephanie Spangler
Senior Writer:  Lisa Maloney
Asst Editor and Proofreaders:  Kim Zarra and Beth Bishop
Contributor:  Tom Parlapiano