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What will scientists do with Blue Waters?

Many scientists are working now with the Blue Waters team so they are ready to use the massive sustained-petaflop supercomputer when it comes online in 2011. These teams will use Blue Waters to improve our understanding of tornadoes, earthquakes, the spread of contagious diseases, the formation of galaxies, the behavior of molecules and more. Brian … Continued

Leaving the dark days

As part of the Petascale Computing Resource Allocations program, a longtime NCSA collaborator and his team will make the improvements needed to run a popular cosmology simulation code on Blue Waters. Brian O’Shea started as an assistant professor at Michigan State University just last year, but he’s already been at this a long time. For … Continued

Computing crops

A collaboration between University of Illinois Extension and NCSA is putting tools for scientific inquiry and learning at 4-H’ers fingertips. NCSA and University of Illinois Extension worked together to produce an online learning environment that incorporates scientific modeling. The site will be used by Illinois youth participating in 4-H, a land-grant university outreach program that … Continued

Doing the best

Since the National Science Foundation gave the nod to build Blue Waters—a sustained petascale computer for open scientific research—NCSA, the University of Illinois, IBM, and partners around the country have been collaborating on the machine and a facility to house it. Building the two simultaneously has afforded unprecedented opportunities for synergy between machine and facility. … Continued

Dark days

By J. William Bell As part of the Petascale Computing Resource Allocations program, a longtime NCSA collaborator and his team will make the improvements needed to run a popular cosmology simulation code on Blue Waters. Brian O’Shea started as an assistant professor at Michigan State University just last year, but he’s already been at this … Continued

Get in the game

By J. William Bell The graphics processing units in NCSA’s Lincoln cluster speed molecular dynamics simulations that drive the development of detergents and drug-delivery systems. A few years ago, a graphics processing unit had one job: Thrill videogamers by throwing as many pixels up on the screen as fast as possible. Let them see through … Continued

NCSA answers questions about GPU computing

Graphics processing units (GPUs) aren’t just for graphics anymore. These high-performance “many-core” processors are increasingly being used to accelerate a wide range of science and engineering applications, in many cases offering dramatically increased performance compared to CPUs. Significant biomolecular, computational chemistry, astrophysical, condensed matter physics, weather modeling and seismic stack migration applications already have benefited … Continued

Getting viral

By J. William Bell Some early prospective users of Blue Waters will build computing code for global epidemic models. Infectious diseases can have very different characteristics. Measles strike in related waves over the course of decades. Any given flu strain tends to peter out in a year. A flu victim is thought to infect about … Continued

Exciting times as applications are allocated to Blue Waters

Earlier this summer, excitement started to build for the Blue Waters sustained petascale computing system as the National Science Foundation announced the first science teams to receive preliminary Petascale Computing Resource Allocations (PRACs) for Blue Waters. Each PRAC award identifies a scientific challenge requiring advanced modeling and simulation capabilities that can only be provided by … Continued

The perfect pair

Researchers rely on NCSA’s Mercury to overcome a major barrier in shrinking capacitors for microelectronics use. A supercomputer in your pocket? Probably not. But thanks to today’s high-performance computing, the electronic devices you’ll carry in your pocket in future will most likely be smaller and have larger, more powerful memories than the ones you’re toting … Continued

Hydrogen harvest

By Trish Barker A computational approach and NCSA resources help MIT researchers better understand the process of manufacturing hydrogen. How do you harvest hydrogen? The abundant element accounts for about three-quarters of the elemental matter in the universe, but collecting a sufficient supply for industrial uses—from the mundanity of fertilizer production to the potential for … Continued

Closing the gaps

Biophysicists at the University of Pennsylvania used NCSA’s Abe to clarify a mysterious interaction between cholesterol and neurotransmitter receptors. Research into how anesthesia works may eventually unlock not only that mystery but dozens of others as well. “Anesthetics have improved significantly over the last hundred years, but the mechanism of anesthesia is not understood at … Continued

Exotic molecules

Understanding of the chemical bonding of many elements has been fundamentally changed by chemists at the University of Virginia, who rely on NCSA resources to verify their results. Zap. Zapzap. Z-a-a-a-p. That’s the sound of chemist Lester Andrews and his team at work at the University of Virginia. They use a pulsed laser to create … Continued

Realizing the dream

The University of Illinois launched a new institute that will combine arts and technology. Called edream, the institute will be headed by Donna Cox, who leads NCSA’s Advanced Visualization Laboratory. Access’ Barbara Jewett sat down with her and Kelly Searsmith, the institute’s assistant director for planning and development, to learn more about the institute and … Continued

Ready on day 1

To ensure that scientists and engineers can achieve sustained petaflop performance on Blue Waters from day one, intensive work is under way now to port, optimize, and scale a range of applications to effectively use the system’s more than 200,000 processors. Scientists and engineers who use these applications are working closely with computing experts, including … Continued

They love a challenge

University of Illinois engineers use NCSA resources to score in an international data retrieval competition and to advance automatic speech and video recognition. Apparently, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson and I are an object lesson in the challenges of automated speech recognition, his field of expertise. As we discuss his work, we frequently throw around the name “Barack … Continued

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