More universities embracing advanced HPC clusters

More universities embracing advanced HPC clusters

on Jul 16, 14 • by Chris Bubinas • with No Comments

Oxford University and the University of California, Santa Cruz recently embraced advanced HPC solutions...

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As high performance computing solutions continue to expand and advance in terms of their range of applications and capabilities, it is no surprise that an ever-increasing number of universities and other institutes of higher learning are embracing these and related offerings. The most recent examples of this trend are Oxford University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Oxford HPC
Campus Technology reported that Oxford University invested in a hybrid scale-out network-attached storage system. This system is specifically intended to support the school's Advanced Research Computing Centre, an HPC center for research.

Discussing the investment, Andrew Richards, head of the Advanced Research Computing Centre, explained that since the organization must get by with minimal IT support, the solution needed to provide a high degree of management ability, load balancing, and performance monitoring, the news source reported.

According to Campus Technology, the Advanced Research Computing Centre delivers HPC computing to researchers throughout the university. By adding this new network-attached storage system, Oxford University will be able to further extend its HPC power to more personnel on a wider basis.

Deep space research at UCSC
Meanwhile, UCSC has adopted a new HPC solution in order to further the school's advanced astrophysics research capabilities.

Specifically, this new system will serve as part of Hyades, a supercomputer installed in 2013 and dedicated to astrophysics-related calculations.

"State-of-the-art computational resources have been pivotal in making UCSC one of the nation's leading centers for research in numerical astrophysics and planetary science," said Shawfeng Dong, associate project scientist and HPC system administrator at UCSC. "Hyades dramatically increases our ability to address some of the most fundamental scientific questions of our time."

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, director of the Theoretical Astrophysics at Santa Cruz group, explained that HPC solutions are essential for non-visible astronomy.

"Computer simulations help us to understand astrophysical phenomena, which are not amenable to experimental studies," said Ramirez-Ruiz.

As an example, Ramirez-Ruiz noted that his team of students use HPC simulations to examine the effect of a star traveling too close to a black hole – the type of event that is not visible through conventional astronomical methods.

"When a star travels too close to a black hole, powerful tidal forces stretch the star and then rip it apart before it is digested by the black hole. To simulate this process, we employ a great deal of computational predictive analysis including radiation hydrodynamics," he explained.

Ramirez-Ruiz explained that the Hyades supercomputer is not intended solely to for UCSC faculty and graduate students. In addition, undergrads and local community college students will ideally have access to the system's computing capabilities.

"We see ourselves as a center for excellence, helping to train students in using high-performance computing resources to solve scientific problems. These skills will help them get recruited by top universities and companies after graduation," Ramirez-Ruiz said.

Considering the growing impact of HPC solutions in various industries, this sentiment is likely to become increasingly popular among other educational centers.

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