China retains supercomputer crown in latest Top500 list

A supercomputer built by the Chinese government has retained its place at the top of a list of the world’s most powerful systems, the BBC reports. Tianhe-2 can operate at 33.86 petaflop/s – the equivalent of 33,863 trillion calculations per second – according to a test called the Linpack benchmark. There was only one change near the top of the leader board. Switzerland’s new Piz Daint – with 6.27 petaflop/s – made sixth place. The Top500 list is compiled twice-yearly by a team led by a professor from Germany’s University of Mannheim…

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Campus IT staff to supercomputers: Be cool

Purdue's supercomputer is among the most powerful commercial machines in the world.
Purdue's supercomputer is among the most powerful commercial machines in the world.

In Mike Shuey’s line of work, turning off a computer means losing up to 3 million processing hours—a few weeks of work, gone in an instant.

Until Shuey and his team of supercomputing experts at Purdue University found a way to cool down the massive machines when they overheated during the blazing summer months, there were only two options: “You turn on a few fans and hope for the best, or you turn off [the supercomputers] and wait until the temperature stabilizes,” he said.

Shutting down the machines would save the university’s expensive computers—but it could cost researchers weeks or months of work.…Read More

Supercomputer breakthrough allows astronomers to share universe simulations

Supercomputing has helped astrophysicists create massive models of the universe, but such simulations have remained out of reach for many researchers. That could change, however, after a successful test allowed scientists in Portland, Ore., to watch a Chicago-based simulation of how ordinary matter and mysterious dark matter evolved in the early universe, reports. The streaming event took place in real time, which means that teams in both Chicago and Portland theoretically could have interacted together in the simulation as easily as PC or console video gamers play together in online games. The demo goes far beyond entertaining people with 3-D journeys through the early universe. Only supercomputers can handle the huge amounts of data that make up the most sophisticated astrophysics models, and scientists can’t always travel to places with supercomputing clusters to do their research. Having the ability to stream a fully rendered simulation online allows scientists to collaborate on research remotely and overcome the barriers of limited access to supercomputers. “This is an example of trying to break down that barrier—a barrier that gets higher every day as simulations get more complex,” said Mark Hereld, a computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois…

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