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Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center awarded $1.9M to keep Bridges alive

September 19, 2018
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The Bridges project is housed at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center facility in Monroeville, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Bridges supercomputer will keep crunching numbers and digging into data for another year.

The National Science Foundation awarded another $1.9 million to keep Bridges alive until 2020.

Bridges is about 29,000 times faster than a top-end laptop and has 10 million gigabytes, 10 petabytes, of storage, enough for 20,000 years of mp3 music files. About 4.5 miles of cables link together its 27 racks of hardware.

“The new funding to extend operations of Bridges reflects the system’s ongoing, high value to research and discovery,” said Nick Nystrom, interim director at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center.

Space on Bridges is open to research scientists studying biology, geology, archeology, economics and other social sciences who encounter enormous amounts of data but don’t typically have the access or the know-how to analyze and process that data on a supercomputer.

Researchers have used the computing power available on Bridges to investigate traumatic brain injuries, better plan the flu vaccine and beat some of the best poker players in the world. Bridges powered Libratus, a poker-playing artificial intelligence that beat four of the top heads-up, no-limit Texas Hold’em players in the world in a poker tournament last year at Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center received $17.2 million from the National Science Foundation in 2014 for Bridges. It cost $9.65 million to build the supercomputer. Funding for Bridges was scheduled to run out in November 2019, but the new funding extends Bridges life one year.

This story has been updated with Nick Nystrom’s proper title.

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