Purdue’s Anvil supercomputer to speed up research

Scientific research at nearly two dozen universities is set to benefit from new computing power at Purdue University, where a team of researchers has brought a supercomputer to full capacity, potentially powering a wide range of advanced, computer-based tools on the data.

According to a press release, Purdue’s Anvil supercomputer, funded by a $22 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is the largest-capacity computing system ever developed by the university and the most diverse on the planet. technical plan. The tool is now used by researchers at Purdue, as well as 20 other universities.

“Its various components are all integrated in one place with GPUs (graphics processing units) and large memory nodes complementing a cluster of 1,000 compute nodes. As Anvil grows, it is also capable of supporting much more heterogeneous workflows that are more common in the research taking place today at Purdue,” Carol Song, Project Anvil’s Principal Investigator, explained in a public statement.


Song narrated Government technology that the supercomputer was assembled and developed last year for initial user testing, which began in November 2021 before Purdue researchers met with the National Science Foundation’s review board in January 2022 to begin operations of production in February.

She said the Anvil supercomputer is now available to science and engineering researchers across the country for large-scale simulations and sharing research for replication across institutions and cohorts, among other uses.

“We have developed specialized computing capabilities, such as large memory nodes for applications that need to load large amounts of data into memory simultaneously,” she said. “We also have a GPU subsystem for things like data-driven analytics, machine learning, and AI applications. In addition to all of those computing elements, we have a very large storage system.

“Users are beginning to adopt these systems because when they look at problems in finer resolutions and at larger scales, a lot of [this research] requires a lot of computing power, as well as an ability to analyze data as part of their workflow with simulations and modeling.

According to the university, Jonathan Poggie, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics, is exploring how to use Anvil for research into predicting and controlling the aerodynamic heat of flight at high Mach speeds. Additionally, the university said a research group led by Purdue computer science professor Daniel Aliaga is studying how Anvil’s graphics processing power could “facilitate the creation of ‘hypothetical’ design tools. in digital urbanism”.

Besides how Anvil’s abilities can speed up research like this, Song said it allows researchers to share their work with each other faster than before.

“After doing their calculations, researchers very often want to share their results. They must let other people reproduce their work to repeat what they have done and confirm that their method works. For all of this, they need to share their code in a way that other people can easily get up, run, and repeat their experiments,” she said. “Without those systems, researchers would have to hire people or have that kind of software expertise in their group to do those things. This simplifies how they share their applications, software data codes, and datasets. »

The university said the supercomputer has been used in health research, such as work at the University of Kansas, where Assistant Professor Yinglong Miao uses Anvil for biomolecular simulations to discover cures for heart disease.

“Using processors, this work could take months or even years,” Miao said in a public statement. “With GPUs on Anvil, we can run these simulations much faster. Instead of needing months, we just need weeks.

Song said Miao’s experience using Anvil for his research echoes that of others who have tested the supercomputer for their research. She said Anvil’s hardware, in terms of processors and its high-performance cloud system, has been “extremely helpful in speeding up people’s work.”

“We got comments like, ‘It’s worth the wait. Now I get double the speed of what I had on other systems. It’s great to hear that we are achieving the goals we set for ourselves,” she said.

Now that the supercomputer is open to researchers, Song said it’s time to educate others about the technology and its potential.

“Going forward, we have a few challenges. One is getting more people here, especially those who could benefit from such a large system, but they are traditionally not familiar with these systems,” said “With these tools, we hope to help people adapt faster and get people who haven’t used these systems to use them.”

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