September 3, 2020

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant of $390,000 for a new research computing cluster at Syracuse University. The cluster will be built using graphical processing units (GPUs), which offer significant processing and memory advantages over traditional hardware. The new cluster will significantly increase the computing power available to faculty and students.

“We are excited to offer additional support to our research community, including faculty, students and staff,” says University Chief Information Officer Sam Scozzafava. “This National Science Foundation grant attests to the caliber and collaborative spirit of research at Syracuse University.”

The grant builds on previous success in GPU-powered research. Leveraging strengths in virtualization and workload management, the Research Computing team deployed a smaller-scale GPU cluster in 2015 to address the emerging needs of campus researchers. The new GPU-powered computing cluster will serve researchers across disciplines as varied as computational forensics, high-energy physics, smart vision systems, computational chemistry, biomedical engineering, soft-matter physics and gravitational-wave physics.

“Graphical processing units are a unique resource for researchers,” says Eric Sedore, chief technology officer. “Instead of gaming or graphical output, which are common uses for GPUs, we use them to do a large amount of math for advanced research.”

The grant adds momentum to the emerging Data Innovation Institute project, an initiative led by Duncan Brown, the Charles Brightman Endowed Professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences. With funding from a CUSE grant and in collaboration with ITS, Brown is exploring how research computing can advance research and scholarship at Syracuse University.

“The new cluster, together with two full-time cyberinfrastructure engineers who provide expertise in software development and high-performance computing, continues our success in securing funding for research computing at Syracuse,” says Brown.

Access to GPUs will enhance research opportunities for Syracuse students. The new cluster will allow broader GPU use within courses and provide computing power to student researchers. Undergraduates and graduate students will gain practical experience with cutting-edge computing architectures.

Beyond campus, the new cluster will strengthen the global scientific community through integration with the Open Science Grid, a collaborative effort that leverages distributed computing cycles at member institutions. A substantial amount of Syracuse’s recent Open Science Grid contributions has supported computational research to address COVID-19. Syracuse University has been a consistent contributor to the Open Science Grid since 2015, fostering the University’s reputation for extramural collaboration and world-class cyberinfrastructure.

The Research Computing team interacts with campus researchers individually, at a research-group level and through campuswide events. Researchers interested in contacting the Research Computing team may email

“We strive not just to improve research on campus but to transform it,” Sedore says. “This grant is a big step in that direction.”