The Week in Review
Computing for Clean Water
Volunteer computing is still going strong as evidenced by an announcement this week from IBM’s World Community Grid. The worldwide network of personal computers is being used in several projects all focused on developing techniques that will lead to better water quality. These projects could not be more timely or necessary as clean water is in desperately short supply for over 1.2 billion people.
From the release:
To accelerate the pace, lower the expense, and increase the precision of these projects, scientists will harness the IBM-supported World Community Grid to perform online simulations, crunch numbers, and pose hypothetical scenarios. The processing power is provided by a grid of 1.5 million PCs from 600,000 volunteers around the world. These PCs perform computations for scientists when the machines would otherwise be underutilized. Scientists also use World Community Grid — equivalent to one of the world’s fastest supercomputers — to engineer cleaner energy, cure disease and produce healthier food staples.
One initiative aims to find ways to filter pathogens that cause disease from the water and another is trying to uncover how human behaviors affect water quality. Another group, based in Brazil, is looking to cure schistosomiasis, a parasite-based disease found in tropical regions and spread by contaminated water.
Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and president of IBM’s Foundation, commented on the program:
“I can think of few endeavors more important than making sure people across the globe have ready access to clean water. I would even suggest that it’s a basic human right, and a hallmark of sophisticated and compassionate societies everywhere. That’s why IBM is so incredibly proud to help scientists harness the resources of World Community Grid to make strides in this vital arena.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The World Community grid relies on the unused cycles of its volunteers’ computers to help solve humanitarian projects. If you’d like to add your computer to this project, sign up at www.worldcommunitygrid.org.
China’s First Petaflop System Up and Running
People’s Daily reported late last week that China’s first petaflop supercomputer is now fully assembled and running at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin. Named Tianhe-1, which means River in the Sky, the system is scheduled to undergo debugging and testing this month.
The supercomputer, housed 13 computer cabinets, employs a hybrid design, where GPUs are used as accelerators. Its 2,560 compute nodes each contain two Xeon processors and two AMD GPUs, for a total of 71,680 cores. (For a deeper explanation of core counts, check out this blog.) Tianhe-1 achieves Linpack values of 563.1 sustained teraflops and 1.2 petaflops peak theoretical performance.
The article gives a real world comparison of all that computing power:
One second of calculations conducted by Tianhe-1 is equivalent to 88 consecutive years of calculations by 1.3 billion people, and the data that the supercomputer can store is equivalent to the sum of the collections in four national libraries with 27 million books each.
Tianhe-1 was developed by the Changsha-based National University of Defense Technology in 2009 and is China’s first domestically-made petaflop supercomputer. It was ranked seventh on the latest TOP500 list. The machine will be used for a variety of high-performance applications in the fields of animation and rendering, biomedical research, aircraft simulation, petroleum exploration, data analysis for financial engineering, weather forecasting, and general science.
If you’re still craving deeper insight into the Tianhe-1, there’s a good primer at the TOP500 site, here.
Myricom Gets New CEO
This week Myricom announced that it had named co-founder Nanette (Nan) Boden as president and chief executive officer. Boden was promoted from her position as CFO, and replaces Chuck Seitz, another of Myricom’s founders.
From the release:
Since helping found Myricom in 1994, Nan Boden has participated in nearly every aspect of Myricom’s operations. She was named Executive Vice President in 1999, CFO in 2001, and CEO in 2010. Nan has been a member of Myricom’s Board of Directors since 2001. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and her B.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Alabama.
Myricom, a Caltech spin-off, made its foray into the 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) field providing HPC interconnect technology for high-end clusters and supercomputers, but has since branched out into more mainstream networking applications. With its fourth generation of networking products, Myri-10G, the company delivers 10GbE solutions for specialized vertical markets, such as financial trading, packet capture, video streaming and IPTV, and HPC.