Washington State University says it plans to open a data center on the Riverpoint Campus here that will house the supercomputer it uses to do contract research.
It already has begun work on the center, which will be located in the Phase I Classroom Building that's used jointly by WSU and Eastern Washington University, at 668 N. Riverpoint.
Graham Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor for the project, which has an estimated construction cost of $875,000, but the entire cost of renovating, furnishing, and upgrading the cooling equipment for the center is expected to be about $1.4 million, says Dyonne Davidson, a project manager for WSU. Callison Architecture Inc., of Seattle, designed the project. Construction is expected to be completed this fall.
The project is being funded in part through a $1 million Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) grant secured through Greater Spokane Incorporated. Gov. Chris Gregoire designated the Riverpoint Campus an IPZ in 2007. The designation, which makes such zones eligible to apply for state grants, is intended to bring together research, training, and commerce to promote innovation and economic activity.
The data-center project will be carried out in two phases. The first phase will include renovating about 2,000 square feet of former library space in the basement of the 120,000-square-foot classroom building. The data center will require its own cooling system, most of which will be installed on the roof of the building, Davidson says.
The second phase would involve doubling the data center's cooling capabilities to allow the supercomputer to draw more electrical power and increase its computing capacity, she says. No timeline or cost has been estimated for the second phase.
Such high-level computing power is needed for current and anticipated research programs, including the WSU Applied Sciences Laboratory's Institute for Shock Physics, Davidson says. The institute conducts research into the physical and chemical properties of materials under extreme conditions, such as high-speed impacts or shock waves.
The institute's supercomputer currently is housed in borrowed facilities on loan from Avista Corp., in the Seahorn Building near Steam Plant Square downtown. The supercomputer, which has three computer server racks, each roughly the size of two tall filing cabinets placed side-by-side, will be moved to the classroom building during the renovation project, Davidson says.
In October, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded the Applied Sciences Laboratory an $8.5 million, four-year research contract grant for the Institute for Shock Physics to develop stable composite materials that react under certain conditions to release tremendous amounts of energy in a "controlled explosion," WSU's Web site says. The reactive materials would offer an advantage over conventional explosives in that they could be safely handled and transported.
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