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Hawking Launches Supercomputer

University of Cambridge (07/20/12)

Stephen Hawking launched Europe’s most powerful shared-memory supercomputer during the recent Numerical Cosmology 2012 workshop at the University of Cambridge’s Center for Mathematical Sciences.  SGI manufactured the COSMOS supercomputer, which will help expand understanding of the universe.  “Cosmology is now a precision science, so we need machines like COSMOS to reach out and touch the real universe, to investigate whether our mathematical models are correct,” Hawking says.  He notes that significant advances have been recently made in cosmology and particle physics, pointing out that finding an ultimate theory in principle would enable researchers to predict everything in the universe.  “Even if we do find the ultimate theory, we will still need supercomputers to describe how something as big and complex as the universe evolves, let alone why humans behave the way they do,” Hawking says.  COSMOS is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council DiRAC High Performance Computing facility, which serves Britain’s cosmologists, astronomers, and particle physicists, as well as non-academic users.  The current research program of the COSMOS consortium focuses on advancing understanding of the origin and structure of the universe.


Researchers Squeeze GPU Performance From 11 Big Science Apps

HPC Wire (07/18/12) Michael Feldman

The Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility published a report in which researchers documented that graphical processing unit (GPU)-equipped supercomputers increased application speeds by a factor of between 1.4 and 6.1 across a range of science applications. The performance gains using GPU-based supercomputers indicate the technology is generating good results across a range of applications. The 11 simulation programs, which include S3D, Denovo, LAMMPS, WL-LSMS, CAM-SE, NAMD, Chroma, QMCPACK, SPECFEM-3D, GTC, and CP2K are used by tens of thousands of researchers around the world. The report was written by researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS). The researchers ran the programs on CSCS’ Monte Rosa, which has two AMD Interlagos central processing units (CPUs) per node, and TitanDev, which consists of hybrid nodes that each contain one NVIDIA Fermi GPU and one Interlagos CPU. The researchers found that only Chroma fully exploited the performance advantage of GPU-based processing. Meanwhile, another factor to consider in comparing application performance is power usage, since GPU accelerators use about twice as much power as high-end X86-based systems.