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UMD Introduces “Zaratan” - The Latest Investment in State-of-the-Art High Performance Computing


Megan Elizabeth Speakes


COLLEGE PARK, Md - After a lengthy competitive bid process and numerous supply chain delays, UMD announced its latest investment in high-performance computing. Given the name Zaratan, after the mythical sea turtle known for its long lifetime and grandiose size, this new flagship HPC cluster will support world-class research at UMD. The university is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of scientific understanding as it commits to empowering its research community with an accessible, superior leading-edge HPC system.

“We take the enablement of science using cutting-edge resources very seriously, and pushing the envelope of science and discovery is aided by computational resources and other prevailing technologies,” says Tripti Sinha, Assistant Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of the UMD Division of Information Technology. “That’s our role—helping our researchers push the frontiers of science.”

The needs for more compute cores, more data storage and more GPU accelerators formed the foundation for the development of Zaratan. Deepthought2, Zaratan’s predecessor, could provide a theoretical peak performance of 300 teraflops. Zaratan’s 360 liquid-cooled compute nodes, 50,000 CPU cores and 80 GPUs provide more than a ten-fold performance increase over Deepthought2. In addition, Zaratan provides a superior storage capacity for big data sets, with ten times as much storage, including a much-needed archive tier.

“Zaratan embodies UMD's strategic goals of tackling grand challenges. Solving many of the world's grand challenges requires advanced computing technology,” said Jeff Hollingsworth, Professor, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at UMD.

UMD aspires to take HPC to disciplines beyond traditional supercomputing domains, and put the power of HPC into the hands of more faculty members, thereby expanding beyond the hard sciences. To help meet that goal, Zaratan offers an Open OnDemand web portal. “Open OnDemand removes many of the complexities that come with accessing HPC systems by traditional methods,” notes Kevin Hildebrand, HPC Architect at UMD. “With Open OnDemand, HPC users have an easy path to get the compute resources they need when they need them, thus lowering the barriers to entry.”

This endeavor to provide cutting-edge resources for the UMD community led to beneficial technology partnerships with Dell Technologies, Cambridge Computer, DataBank, and Zayo. Dell provided compute hardware and installation services for Zaratan, and Cambridge Computer supplied storage hardware and installation services. DataBank and Zayo partnered with UMD to build out the superior data center facility where Zaratan is housed.

“We know how to support HPC environments and have the right team in place with the proper skills to provide the power density and cooling requirements necessary to host these important environments for college research institutions, as well as other customers,” said DataBank CEO Raul Martynek. “We are essentially the ‘easy’ button for HPC environments.”

UMD hosted a Zaratan Grand Opening Celebration on December 1, 2022, to unveil this new resource, discuss its capabilities, and affirm UMD’s commitment to high-performance computing.

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland (UMD) is the state's flagship university and a leading public research institution, propelled by a $1.3 billion joint research enterprise. Located four miles from Washington, D.C., the university is dedicated to addressing the grand challenges of our time and is the nation's first Do Good campus. It is driven by a diverse and proudly inclusive community of more than 50,000 fearless Terrapins. UMD is a top producer of Fulbright scholars and offers an unparalleled student experience with more than 300 academic programs, 25 living-learning programs and 400 study abroad programs. Spurred by a culture of innovation and creativity, UMD faculty are global leaders in their field and include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and members of the national academies. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit


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