USD is shopping for a new supercomputer, hoping to increase research capacity

Students & professors across science disciples excited for new technology

By Elisa Raffa |

Published 08/26 2016 05:22PM

Updated 08/26 2016 06:39PM

An empty rack here at USD's Data Center is ready and waiting for a new supercomputer to arrive in spring.

USD has had supercomputers for the last 10 years, but with advancing technology and aging equipment it's time to refresh. The school plans to use $750,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation and South Dakota Board of Regents to buy a new supercomputer. The plan is to roll it out in the spring.
"One... this will let us do what we've been doing faster, and maybe do more of it, but also more capabilities. We'll have the ability to do interactive data visualizations. So, for people who are designing molecules, they can interact with those theoretical models in real time" says Doug Jennewein, Director of Research Computing, USD.
Students will be able to share this data with national labs and other research institutions.
But what makes it super?
Think of your one smartphone that you use every day... A supercomputer has the capacity to work with and store data equivalent to 10,000 smart phones! That's like being able to stream 500,000 YouTube videos at once. 
Rows of supercomputers that take up an entire room, just like these, are what meteorologists use to model weather and climate...simply, how we do our everyday forecasts.
"The amount of calculation is a lot. So, of course I could do some preliminary analysis using my own PC, however, once we fix our algorithm we have to use supercomputer to do real calculation" says Professor Jing Liu, Department of Physics, USD.
Professors are excited that the students will get the rare opportunity to do extensive research, making them more ready and competitive for the job market after graduation.
"You will be excited because you are able to analyze very complex data system, because this data... if you look at it, it's just numbers! But if you put all what's meaningful into software, when you process it, it's a very beautiful result that you can tell people what it means! I think they are very excited about this!" says Professor Dongming Mei, Department of Physics, USD.
The $750,000 supercomputer will be ready to use next year.  And they're getting a one at a bargain, some even larger supercomputers can cost tens of millions of dollars.

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