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Thinking in Pictures

November 4, 2011 9:29 am | by William L. Weaver, Ph.D. | Comments

General-purpose computing on graphics processing units — a brief history William L. Weaver, Ph.D. In the mid-1970s, filmmaker George Lucas sought to capture his vision for a space opera called The Star Wars on motion picture film. The difficulty was that the technology did not yet exist to create the vast special effect sequences that were required to tell an ancient story set in a galaxy far, far away. To solve this problem, Lucas acquired space in a vacant warehouse located next to the Van Nuys Airport near Los Angeles, CA and assembled an interdisciplinary team of special effects artists, model makers and engineers that later became known as Industrial Light and Magic (ILM).

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GPUs today are still far from being able to tell x86 processors they have 24 hours to get out of town, but GPUs are clearly proliferating in the HPC market at a decent clip.

HPC Market Showdown: GPU Momentum Growing

November 3, 2011 10:43 am | by Steve Conway | Comments

What a difference two years can make in the fast-paced world of HPC technology adoption — a market considerably less risk-averse than its mainstream IT counterpart. IDC’s 2008 worldwide study on HPC processors revealed that nine percent of HPC sites were using some form of accelerator technology in their installed systems. GPGPUs (henceforth to be called GPUs) shared the accelerator habitat back then with FPGAs, Cell processors and...

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Tom Murphy: Finding Innovative Ways to Help Students Survive and Succeed

November 1, 2011 1:42 pm | Comments

Tom Murphy isn’t one of those teachers who thinks the best way to get students to learn is to pack their heads full of ideas and concepts. Instead, he’d rather have his students figure out the best ways to pack powerful computing systems into briefcases, suitcases and small shipping boxes. Murphy has come up with a number of innovative approaches to teaching his students about high performance computing.

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Latin America's HPC Growth Agent: René Luna-Garcia

November 1, 2011 1:26 pm | by Lyn Gerner | Comments

Central Mexico has been a hub of culture and commerce for as long as humans have gathered there. As early as A.D. 750, this region was inhabited by over 100,000 people, and was known as the “Place of the Gods.” Today, Mexico City is the growth center of high performance computing in Mexico and greater Latin America.

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Leading ESnet to the Next Level of Innovation: Steve Cotter

November 1, 2011 1:22 pm | Comments

As science becomes more data-intensive, whether due to massive amounts of data collected by experimental facilities or increasingly detailed simulations on supercomputers, that same research is in turn increasingly reliant on networking. For most of its 25 years, the Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network,has been criticalt in supporting DOE’s research missions.

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Of SuperHEROES and Superpowers in Supercomputing

November 1, 2011 1:18 pm | by CE Stevens | Comments

Last June, in the midst of a nation reeling from the most devastating natural disasters in its nearly 3,000-year history, the high performance computing (HPC) industry quaked in its own surprise with the debut of the newest leader on the Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputer — the “K-Computer” at the Advanced Institute for Computation Sciences (AICS) at RIKEN Center in Kobe, Japan.

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The Art of Science — Visualize the Possibilities

November 1, 2011 1:15 pm | by CE Stevens | Comments

Kelly Gaither is a major driving force in HPC visualization, development of large “superdisplays” comprised of large, tiled viz-walls in dealing with large data and parallel systems. As Director of Visualization at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), she currently hosts one of the world's largest scientific visualization “SciVis” systems.  

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Implementing Electronic Lab Notebooks Part 6

October 24, 2011 9:21 am | by Bennett Lass Ph.D., PMP | Comments

Research Management Bennett Lass Ph.D., PMP Web Exclusive This is the sixth and final article in a series on best practices in Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) implementation. This article discusses the fifth and last core area: Research Management.

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New Algorithm May Help Data Centers Better Control Power Costs

October 17, 2011 10:25 am | by Mike Martin | Comments

Tackling green data center development challenges Mike Martin On the ground or in the cloud, energy consumption can pose costly dilemmas to data center operators looking to maximize revenue and minimize expense. To keep power costs down and paying clients happy, a three-person international research team has developed — and tested — a straightforward yet novel algorithm that optimizes server operations by balancing power with performance.

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Could Power & Cooling Costs Spur a Scientific Migration?

October 17, 2011 9:58 am | by Steve Conway | Comments

Recent research shows HPC sites plan expansion despite growing concerns Steve Conway A decade ago, power and cooling didn’t make it onto the top 10 list of issues HPC data centers said they were facing. Today, power and cooling consistently ranks among data center managers’ top two or three challenges. What’s changed?

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Cool NERSC Experiment Really Pays Off in Energy Savings

October 17, 2011 9:15 am | by Brent Draney | Comments

Custom cooling distribution unit built on commodity hardware delivers energy and space savings Brent Draney The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is one of the largest facilities in the world devoted to providing computing resources and expertise for basic science research to nearly 4,000 researchers from around the globe. To facilitate this research, the center houses a range of HPC systems — including a new 1,120 node system that serves as a combined high performance computing cluster and a scientific cloud computing testbed. The system was installed last year to replace two existing clusters and to support an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project, called Magellan, that explores whether a cloud computing model could benefit needs of scientists.

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Exciting Times in Africa

October 15, 2011 1:13 pm | by CE Stevens | Comments

Happy Sithole is pioneering all aspects of research and technology frontiers on behalf of South Africa and across the continent. Happy has been integral to numerous African “firsts,” beginning with the inauguration of South Africa's Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in 2007, which featured the first Top 500 system listing for Africa.

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Power a Major Hurdle on Road to Exascale

October 14, 2011 10:47 am | by John Kirkley | Comments

Unless some groundbreaking solutions are forthcoming, exascale computing may remain more fancy than fa ct John Kirkley When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued the report “Exascale Computing Study: Technology Challenges in Achieving Exascale Systems”1 on September 28, 2008, it sent shock waves through the high performance computing (HPC) community. The report flatly stated that current technology trends were “insufficient” to achieve exascale-level systems in the next five to 10 years. The biggest stumbling block? Power.

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Two Megawatts of Computing Power in a Ford Fiesta?

October 14, 2011 10:04 am | by Phil E. Tuma | Comments

Using immersion cooling to reach the next level of power density and efficiency Phil E. Tuma Progress in leadership-class computing is being hindered by the limitations of conventional air cooling technology. Multicore chip architectures, faster memory and increases in parallelism have meant an increase in the amount of computational power that must be devoted to communication. While evolving technologies such as 3-D packaging, low-loss materials and improved Z-axis and optical interconnect will play an important role in increasing off-chip and inter-node bandwidth, decreasing signal path length through increased packaging density remains a tried-and-true strategy.

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What You Should Know about State-of-the-art Data Storage Regulations

October 13, 2011 8:47 am | by Sandy Weinberg, Ph.D. and Ronald Fuqua, Ph.D. | Comments

A composite look at four laws, descisions and quidelines related to pharmaceutical data Sandy Weinberg, Ph.D. and Ronald Fuqua, Ph.D. In the U.S. pharmaceutical industries, the collection, storage, mining and analysis of data are subject to a number of disjointed, uncoordinated and occasionally contradictory regulatory restrictions. Pharmaceutical data falls into two general categories, each with differing regulatory oversight and guidelines. In the developmental process, the clinical data that describes tests of product safety and efficacy falls under the purview of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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