Created by Intel in 2014, the company announced it would be donating Cherry Creek 1.0 — at the time containing just shy of 10,000 cores — to a research university. Rob Roy, founder and CEO of the megalithic data center Switch, reached out to Intel, and the computer giant agreed to send Cherry Creek to the data center. Roy urged Joseph Lombardo, director of the National Supercomputing Institute, to enter the proposal process to secure Cherry Creek for UNLV.
Since then, the computer has been aggressively expanded, to the 26,000 cores it has today with plans to hit 100,000 cores in the next two years. Within five, Lombardo expects that number to reach a million. Or, about 167,000 ’Gram-perusing teens worth of iPhones.
The raw computing force may be impressive, but the way researches can access it is familiar. More than 230 researchers and students have access to Cherry Creek, but the interface for it can come from anywhere: a laptop, a tablet, or a phone. It will even text researches when it finishes their calculations. There’s no magical tech to the supercomputer; nothing about it that’s so far out beyond the ken of mortal and machine. The raw power is impressive, but. Cherry Creek’s sublime beauty is in its relentless efficiency in shaving off weeks, maybe months or more. For researchers, Cherry Creek is a time machine.
“It looks special, but software is software,” Lombardo said. “Most of it is built into Linux. Some of these jobs are long. We have jobs in chemistry that can run weeks. You couldn't do that on a laptop. Weeks on Cherry Creek would be years on a regular machine. The machine would burn up before it would converge on an answer.”