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Research Computing Services

Information Technology Services

Advanced Computing
I am a Student. Can I Take Advantage of Advanced Computing?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, the very first projects run by ETSU with the Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) facility at Oak Ridge and with the AWS-EC2 resource at Amazon were both run by Undergraduate Honors Students.
What is Advanced Computing?
In simplest terms, advanced computing (high performance or supercomputing) refers to an aggregation of the processing power of a number of computers focused toward performance of a task(s) that would take a single desktop computer a long time to perform.
Should You Consider Advanced Computing?
Advanced computing makes it possible to compute faster. When your computer runs an extended computation, resources for other tasks are reduced and running other processes may cause the big computation to crash. Advanced computing is available to everyone, whether you are data mining, working with large data sets, complex video or animation renders, multi-step analyses, simulations, iterative algorithms, data smoothing, 3D structural/image analyses, genetic sequencing, or a myriad of other possibilities. 
What Does the Term "Big Data" Mean?
"Big data" might refer to a data set that contains such a large number of observations that there are almost certain to be undiscovered patterns within the data that would reveal useful information about the populations to which the data pertains. The data are not necessarily comprised of numbers; a researcher might be "mining" through a literary collection, a website category, or a film library. The possibilities are endless.
Is Data Analysis Slowing Your Computer?
You may have accumulated or acquired big data without realizing it! If you run an analysis on a data set and your computer slows down so much that you cannot complete other tasks, you are dealing with big data. Only you can decide how much of a slowdown you can tolerate but if an analysis slows your computer for hours, you need an alternate solution, particularly if you dread having to perform your next data analysis!
Is there Support for the Humanities and Text/Web Mining?

Artistic works, cultures, languages, and social networks are just a few of the areas that are being explored with advanced computing. Huge text mining projects are scanning the internet for useful information. You may need to get creative to determine how to best compile, compare, and analyze available data within the humanities. If you are asking huge questions that seem like they must have answers, advanced computing may be a valuable tool to support your scholarly endeavors. We are currently experimenting with the use of RapidMiner for text mining the web.

What Statistics Can You Pair with Advanced Computing?

Currently, we can combine advanced computing power with R and SAS.

Are Our Advanced Computing Resources Certified for HIPAA Data?

We are actively seeking BAA documentation from both AWS and ACF (see advanced computing tools below). This documentation is required to permit analysis of HIPAA-regulated data.

Because the BOINC project runs on student lab computers, BOINC is not suitable for human subject data.

What Advanced Computing Tools are Available?

ITS-Research Computing Services provides multiple advanced computing tools (big data tools) to meet the needs of faculty and student researchers at ETSU. The information below outlines tools that are currently available. For assistance with any of these, including assistance with estimation of computing costs for inclusion in grant applications, or for assistance in setting up an account to access to one or more of these resources, please contact Vincent Thompson at 423.439.4492 or the ITS HelpDesk at 94648.

Research Computing Services verifies IRB authorization for studies involving human-related data (by waiver or study approval) before setting up accounts on any of these resources. If your research involves animals, you will require University Council on Animal Care approval. If your research involves export control, you will require approval from the Export Control Compliance Officer. Additional approval procedures may be required by ACF.


  • With nearly limitless hardware resources (storage, CPU, GPU), we can help you architect a processing instance that will complete your analysis quickly and at reasonable cost.
  • AWS EC2 services are available for ETSU faculty and student researchers.
  • AWS has an advanced computing support team ready to lend hands-on technical assistance.
  • AWS make available a vast array of software licenses that you can lease for the duration of your project analysis.
  • We believe that the AWS EC2 solution is ideal for short term or pilot projects that need to be completed or can be completed quickly. Examples might include situations in which a complete research data set already exists, situations in which a long term software licensing agreement is prohibitively expensive, or in pilot research situations in which a preliminary data analysis might need to be included in a research grant application.
  • AWS has a competitive fee schedule and you only pay for the processing time you use. Although faculty receive $200 of free computing time annually and students receive $100 of free computing time annually, we do request that faculty include advanced computing costs in their funded research grant applications.


  • The Advanced Computing Facility (ACF), housed within the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS) at UT/Oak Ridge, consolidates computational resources, user support, and investments across the State to provide participating researchers with a nationally recognized regional-class computing resource managed by a world-class support staff with broad-based research experience.
  • We believe that the ACF solution is ideal for longer term research projects involving ongoing data collection, for situations in which an extreme level of support is required to determine how to proceed with an analysis, for situations in which software requirements are complex, and for collaborative studies performed with UT faculty.
  • We believe that inclusion of the ACF within the framework of a data management plan will strengthen any federal research grant application.
  • ETSU's ITS and ORSP have made an initial purchase of 2 million core hours of processing time but we request that faculty incorporate advanced computing costs in their funded research grant applications.


  • This is an open-source application which permits utilization of on-campus student lab computer processors during night time hours when the computers are normally idle.
  • There are potentially thousands of processors available.
  • The capabilities of BOINC at ETSU are currently focused on CPU-oriented analyses.
  • The resources are only available to ETSU researchers.
  • Use of BOINC is free to the researcher and operates at low cost to the university.

advanced computing high performance computing supercomputing


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