The Office of Information Technology Research Computing group is a key enabler of the academic scientific enterprise. More than just moving and storing data or performing calculations, we create and sustain collaborative frameworks that are critical to modern science.

2017 Highlights

  • National Science Foundation Award 1659210 to build out the 10G campus Science DMZ Network
  • Upgrade of the MERCED Cluster operating system to support advances in scientific computing software
  • Developed and presented a comprehensive Research CyberInfrastructure Plan to campus deans and key leadership
  • CENIC Award for Network Innovation for the UC Merced Wide Area Visualization Environment (WAVE)

Science DMZ Network

UC Merced took a big step forward in 2017 in implementing a Science DMZ Network, funded by a National Science Foundation award of over $420K.

Under this project, UC Merced purchased and installed a dedicated router to support up to sixty 10-Gigabit-per-second connections and at least two 100-Gigabit-per-second connections in various locations around campus. This allows computers, servers, and instruments that produce or consume ‘big data’ to be connected at speeds from ten times up to 100 times their current speed.

Practically speaking, this means that transfers that previously would have taken 24 hours can now happen in just over two hours. This greatly improves the ability of UC Merced researchers to move data and work collaboratively.

My dissertation research would have not progressed in a timely manner without the help and guidance of the HPC staff. The staff helped set up a server in our lab and walked me through learning to use the MERCED cluster. Both of these pieces of computing equipment were necessary for me to carry out genetic analyses and finish my dissertation.

I was always met with kindness, helpfulness, and responsiveness in my interactions with HPC staff. If one person could not immediately help me, they were quick to identify others who could provide a solution. The ability to have these computing resources and support from knowledgeable staff also meant I was able to conduct preliminary analyses and include these data in a NSF grant, which successfully secured me a 3-year postdoctoral position.

I am grateful for the role these valuable resources have played in my success!

Lauren Schiebelhut
Ph.D., Environmental Systems

Spring 2017

MERCED Cluster Upgrades

In order to keep up with the latest releases of both academic and commercial software, the MERCED Cluster was upgraded to the latest release of the CentOS Operating System. This cluster contains over 80 computer nodes, so the upgrade required detailed planning and execution. Each node was upgraded and checked over several days.

During the upgrade, we also added several specialized GPU nodes—bringing the total GPU nodes to six— and increased the overall cores by about 10%—going from 1700 to over 1876.

a graphics processing unit (GPU), can take huge batches of data and perform the same operation over and over much more quickly than a CPU



a node is a processing unit that receives instructions and performs actions based on those instructions

Pacific Research Platform (PRP)

UC Merced continues to participate in the PRP, the high-capacity regional “freeway system” led by researchers at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley that makes it possible for large amounts of scientific data to be moved between our faculty labs and their collaborators’ sites, supercomputer centers or data repositories, without performance degradation.

OIT Research Computing supports two separate UC Catalyst Grant projects:

  • “Preservation of Biodiversity through Conservation Genomics,” $1.76 million, led by UCLA, with Professors Michael Dawson and Jason Sexton from UC Merced as co-investigators
  • “3-D Digital Preservation of At-Risk Global Cultural Heritage,” $1.07 million, led by UC San Diego, with Professor Nicola Lercari as UC Merced co-investigator

In 2017, researchers at UC Merced used the PRP to transfer an estimated
total of over
10 Terabytes (TB) of data.

10 TB = the information contained on 4.4 billion single-spaced typewritten pages, or about the amount of new data generated by the Hubble Space Telescope every year


In addition to the Catalyst grants and support for data collaboration, UC Merced joined the NSF-funded CHASE-CI project led by UCSD in 2017. This project aims to place thousands of consumer-grade GPUs on the PRP to create a community infrastructure for research into advanced Artificial Intelligence.

As our part in the project, UC Merced will allow access to both the WAVE’s 22-GPU cluster as well as a dedicated 9-GPU cluster associated with the campus Science DMZ Data Transfer Node.

Library CAVE

This year, we added to the virtual environments on campus by installing a 3-panel, standalone virtual reality CAVE kiosk built from a single server and three massive Ultra-High Resolution (UHD 4K) panels.

The CAVE is used for public display, classroom and educational lab demonstrations, and it’s a pretty cool tool for UC Merced students to use just for fun, too.

The LibraryCAVE is connected to the campus network and can be used in collaboration with the WAVE or other, similar installations at our sister campuses and beyond.

Wide Area Visualization Environment (WAVE)

Based on sheer pixel count, the UC Merced WAVE was the largest walk-in VR facility in the world from mid-2016 through mid-2017, and it is still among the highest resolution visualization environments on the planet.

Since its inception in 2016, the WAVE has hosted over 300 visitors from the campus community, members of the National Academy of Sciences and other prominent academics, and local business leaders and students.

The WAVE received the CENIC Award for Network Innovation in March 2017—an award that recognizes outstanding new and innovative technologies using the network—which UC Merced shares with researchers at UC San Diego, who helped to design and build the WAVE.