October 11, 2013
Oct. 11 -- The University’s Center for Computation and Technology recently received a record-breaking grant to purchase a new supercomputing cluster known as SuperMIC. This will add to the University’s collection of supercomputers.
Deputy Director for the CCT Honggao Liu said $3.92 million of the funding came from the National Science Foundation.
“We want to use the cluster to train a new generation of scientists including faculty, researchers and students,” Liu said.
SuperMIC is categorized as a heterogeneous, high performance computing (HPC) cluster. What makes this technology the most up-to-date is Intel Xeon Phi and NVIDIA Kepler K20X graphics processing unit accelerators. According to the project proposal, heterogeneous computing clusters are becoming the norm for such systems; three of the top 10 Top 500 supercomputers use accelerators.
With this program, Liu said more students will be attracted to computer science study areas.
“It will attract not only students, but more high profile faculty as well,” Liu said.
Current members of the University community can benefit from SuperMIC immediately, including ongoing research.
Projects include a collaboration between the CCT and biological sciences department concerning drug discovery, another pertaining to climate change and a black hole simulation, Liu said.
SuperMIC will be open for use by the University community. Any student — undergraduate or graduate — will have an opportunity to use it, if they are working with research staff, said James Lupo, assistant director of computational enablement for the CCT and SuperMIC project director.
“This is history in the making,” Liu said. “Fifteen years ago, we couldn’t say that computers are as fast as they are now.”
Liu believes this is the next step in computer science, as a field of study and industry.
“Computation is one of the most important aspects of scientific discovery,” Liu said. “Our goal is to prepare our students for this and have a big future impact.”
The project has paved the way for other opportunities, such as Beowulf Boot Camp, a summer camp for exposing high school students to supercomputing. At the camp, participants will assemble a system and learn to program.
Planning for the future of supercomputing will help the growth of Louisiana’s economy, Liu said.
“We are trying to increase efforts to work with businesses,” Lupo said. “We are talking to a few companies now.”
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