The UA debuts a new supercomputer that will serve as vital component in research

New high-performance computing equipment is coming to the UA’s Research Data Center this semester in the form of a brand new supercomputer.

The new processing power will triple the performance level of computing resources available to all researchers in varying fields, including computing sciences, engineering, chemistry, biology and many others.

The UA Research Computing Governance Committee has created a contest to decorate the supercomputer, which will be a vital piece of equipment in the UA Never Settle goal of doubling research by 2020.

“A supercomputer has much greater computing power than a desktop or laptop and can be used to solve much larger and more complex computing problems,” said Susan Miller, chair of the High Performance Computing policies sector of the UA Research Computing Policies Committee.

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Supercomputers have more disk storage that’s necessary for storing large data sets. What makes supercomputers different from a Windows PC or MacBook is that they handle climate modeling, medicine or genomics.

“Supercomputers typically have hundreds or thousands of computing cores and many terabytes of memory, as compared to personal computers that have a small number of computing cores and a few gigabytes of memory,” she said.

The data sets are very large and would not be practical to work on with a desktop or laptop.

In many cases, “a data analysis that would take weeks to run on a personal computer can be done in just a few minutes on a supercomputer,” Miller said.

Members of the UA community will have the opportunity to submit their name and artwork concept for the supercomputer.

The UA RCGC wanted to come up with a fun way to call attention to the computing power available at the UA and the interesting problems it enables them to work on, according to Miller. Other supercomputing centers have artwork on their racks and the UA wanted to get involved.

They encourage all contestants to use their imagination subject to the requirements listed on the entry form, which is located on the website. According to the entry form, the designs must be related to research or research computing.

The contest is open to UA students, faculty and staff. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31. The judging committee will make a decision by Feb. 15 and notify the winner or winning team.

“We will have an open house in the spring with recognition of the winners and viewing of the artwork,” Miller said. “The open house will be open to the public.”

According to UA@Work, the winning team will have their name and design memorialized in the RDC. As a prize, each member of the winning team will receive a Lenovo tablet.

According to Leo Enfield, information technology manager at the college of engineering, the college research groups will benefit from having access to the new UA high-performance computing system in a variety of ways.

“One of the more common methods will be by using increasingly complex models to simulate natural and man-made systems and processes,” he said. “The results of these simulations allow engineers to predict events in the real world such as when space debris may endanger astronauts or active satellites.”


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