WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.--(
“We need as much computing cabability as we can get to make our forecasts as detailed as possible”
Nicknamed "Carter," the supercomputer was ranked 54th this week on the latest international Top500.org list of the world's most powerful supercomputers.
The supercomputer was built using the latest technologies from Intel, HP and Mellanox, including not-yet-released Xenon E-5 "Sandy Bridge" Intel processors and HP Proliant servers.
The supercomputer was funded through a cooperative program in which faculty members pool research funds to purchase computing resources. Carter is the fastest supercomputer installed at a college campus that is not a part of a national center and is for campus use.
At Purdue, Carter is already being used for a variety of scientific research projects.
Alan Qi, an assistant professor in computer science, statistics and biology, is using Carter to identify cancer stem cells based on massive high-dimensional flow cytometry data.
"Currently the massive patient data is examined manually by a technician; this procedure is obviously very slow and prone to errors. Carter allows us to analyze the data by new advanced statistical models and to have more accurate results in a couple of hours," Qi said.
Michael Baldwin, an assistant professor of atmospheric science, is developing computational techniques to predict hazardous weather in the United States, such as tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards. He is also developing improved modeling tools to determine how climate change affects severe weather.
"We need as much computing cabability as we can get to make our forecasts as detailed as possible," Baldwin says. "In our models, we combine physical processes of the atmosphere with high-resolution data from weather radar and satellites. We can use Carter to create useful forecasts that the public can use and potentially save lives.
"Carter is running twice as fast as the supercomputer we were using and is using only half of the nodes. That will allow us to scale our models for better forecasts."
In addition to these projects, Carter is also being used to study the quantum effects of future computer chips and to study the effects of greenhouse gases other than CO2 in the atmosphere.
"This groundbreaking supercomputer shows what is possible when researchers, campus IT staff and corporate partners work together as a close team," said Gerry McCartney, chief information officer, vice president for information technology at Purdue and the Olga Oesterle England Professor of Information Technology. "Carter is the fastest research computer at any institution that was completely paid for with faculty and university funds. It was built because Purdue, Intel, HP and Mellanox shared a vision to create a new resource for scientific discovery."
Carter is named for Dennis Carter, a Purdue alumnus who earned his master's degree in electrical engineering in 1974. Carter was responsible for developing the innovative "Intel Inside" marketing campaign, which debuted in 1991.
Purdue's "starting five of supercomputing" - Carter, Hansen, Rossmann, Coates and Steele - are all the result of Purdue's Community Cluster Program, which was the recipient of Campus Technology magazine's Innovators Award in 2010. Purdue CIO Gerry McCartney will be at SC'11 on Nov. 14 and 15 and available for interviews.
Ed Lee serves as project leader for Purdue's Carter Supercomputer, the nation's fastest supercomputer dedicated to campus use. Carter was built through a partnership among Purdue, HP, Intel and Mellanox using upcoming technologies. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)