Indiana University’s petaflop supercomputer bucks public trend

Apr 28, 2013
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Indiana University's new petaflop supercomputer is the first supercomputer to be a "dedicated university resource." It has been named Big Red II, and is a big replacement to IU's previous supercomputer, Big Red, which reached speed of 28 teraflops, drastically slower than Big Red II's one petaflop speeds. Big Red II will be used to help students and staff members with their research on various subjects.

Big Red II is a next-generation Cray XK supercomputer that operates on GPU-enabled nodes and standard CPU compute nodes. There are 344 CPU nodes which each use two 16-core AMD Abu Dhabi processors. It has 676 GPU nodes each using one 16-core AMD Interlagos and one NVIDIA Kepler K20. The supercomputer has 21,824 processor cores total, 43,648GB of RAM, and 180TB of storage.

Indiana University says that the new supercomputer will be used to "enable vital new research to be done and breakthroughs in fields" such as medicine, physics, fine arts, global climate research, astronomy, and much more. The supercomputer should also help the university attract big research grants and boost Indiana's economy. Big Red I helped IU accumulate $253 million in grant funding, so Big Red II is expected to bring in much more.

What Indiana University means by Big Red II being a dedicated university resource is that it will only be used by the university, for the university. It will be used to benefit the university in many academic areas. It will also help fund the entire state, and will be "without any constraints from an outside funding agency." Many professors, staff members and researchers are excited to use Big Red II. D. Craig Brater, the Dean of Indiana University's School of Medicine, says,

"Having been involved in the evolution of IU's advanced computing environment since 2000, I have seen how advanced computing has become more critical to medical research and innovation, and watched as the IU computational resources have been deployed in ways that are more and more valuable to IU medical research. Big Red II will be a critical and strategic aid to accelerating new medical breakthroughs and enabling research that will improve human health."

[via Ars Technica]


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