Dell goes on supercomputer stampede

A partly Dell-powered supercomputer, Stampede, is being lauded tomorrow at its home in Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at Austin’s University of Texas.

Stampede has Dell’s PowerEdge servers under the bonnet and is the largest of the company’s public production cluster deployments so far. The supercomputer is supported by the National Science Foundation and has a 2.2 petaflop base cluster.

TACC also has what is currently the largest configuration of IntelXeon Phi parallel coprocessors, managing just over seven petaflops of performance. All in, the integrated system has almost 10 petaflops, which Dell points out means the supercomputer can run nearly 10 quadrillion math operations a second.

Research is already being carried out on Stampede to predict the frequency of earthquakes in California, as well as to identify and image brain tumours, mixing MRI scan data with other biophysical models to chart tumour growth. The research is also focusing on designing nanocatalysts to capture CO2 from exhaust, to be converted into valuable substances used for industrial applications, Dell said.

While Stampede is not gunning for the top spot on the international supercomputing arms race, it’s clear the system has interesting applications. Supercomputers are increasingly being used to tackle tough questions and make complex calculations, quickly, where traditional methods could take weeks for similar results – for instance, in DNA mapping.

Last year, our favourite supercomputer story was about a system running calculations to see if the entire universe is, in fact, a simulation created by supercomputers in the distant future. 

The dedication event for Stampede will be tomorrow at the J J Pickle Research Campus, Austin. Former stakeholders will be speaking at the event, including Michael Dell, Intel’s Diane Bryant, Congressman Lamar Smith and the University of Texas at Austin president William Powers.