Supercomputer to improve research

The department of Computer and Information Sciences will receive a $1,040,000 supercomputer late this month.

The department of Computer and Information Sciences will receive a $1,040,000 supercomputer late this month.

Professor and chairman of the Computer and Information Sciences department Jie Wu is excitedly anticipating the arrival of Temple’s first supercomputer, which is set to arrive Nov. 30.

The National Science Foundation awarded Temple $840,000 for the high-performance graphic processing unit. The university gave an additional $200,000 for the project to total $1.04 million for the supercomputer, which will be stationed in the department of Computer and Information Sciences.

While many computers operate as central processing units, Temple’s supercomputer will use CPU, a GPU and an electronic monitor simulation software design.

The proposal for the project, which ranked No. 6 out of approximately 100 proposals in the country, was created by Wu, chemistry professor Michael Klein, engineering professor Saroj Biswas, mathematics professor Igor Rivin, Computer and Information Sciences professor Justin Yuan Shi and research professor Axel Kohlmeyer.

The title of Temple’s proposal for the grant, “MRI-R^2: A Hybrid High-Performance GPU/CPU System,” gets the “R^2” from President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With this act, Wu explained, schools were given money within the grant for the supercomputer to help further excellence in research.

Wu said a supercomputer runs at about 160,000 operations per second. The supercomputer that will be at Temple, the “40 TeraFLOP HPC Linux Cluster,” operates like a normal computer, except faster. Instead of having one computer hooked up to a monitor, a supercomputer operates as 12 different computers hooked up to the supercomputer system. Temple’s system will be ranked in the Top 300 fastest computers in the world.

Professors, students and Philadelphia community members will have access to the supercomputer after they attend seminars and classes about the operation of the advanced system.

“Researchers outside Temple can submit applications to use our new system, and we’ll review them. Then, they can come in, learn to use it and use the machine for their research,” Wu said.

“This will boost our visibility and ranking,” Wu said. “The supercomputer will help researchers’ computation of information and allow many calculations to be done in the different colleges of Computer and Information Sciences, chemistry and medicine.”

Temple research professors’ plans to conduct for the supercomputer include the exploration of molecular self-assembly, microvessel networks, spatio-temporal data analysis, large-scale system simulation, effective uniformization and fault-tolerant high performance computing.

The new system will allow users to complete significant research they could not carry out on a regular computer and will be more energy- and management-efficient than multiple machines.

“It’s a very significant step for Temple towards incorporating high-performance computing into ‘normal’ research and education, and a very important computational resource for groups that use high-performance computing in their work to augment the larger machines in the national centers to run calculations that are too large for a regular PC, but too small for a supercomputer,” Kohlmeyer said in an e-mail.

To honor the event, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and workshop is planned to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 30.

Alyssa Saylor can be reached at

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