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­niversity of Idaho Competes with Big Leagues in Computing


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The Big-STEM supercomputer

The University of Idaho is home to the Big-STEM supercomputer, which provides research with the capacity to support large-scale simulations.

Credit: University of Idaho

The University of Idaho is home to Big-STEM, a supercomputer that provides researchers with an enhanced amount of memory to support large-scale simulations in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The system currently has eight 10-core processors and four terabytes of memory, but that is expected to double by this summer.

"It is unique because every processor can access all of the memory, which makes it tremendously faster than anything we have had before," says Jim Alves-Foss, director of the Center for Secure and Dependable Systems at the university. "It is primarily used for simulating and modeling." He notes a university physicist currently is working on modeling complex proteins and their interactions with chemicals in the human body to be used in the design of targeted drugs.

Meanwhile, the mechanical engineering department is developing off-shore wind turbines on waves. The computer simulates the complex motion of the wind and the waves to help understand building the turbines in that specific type of environment.

Because of the massive amount of memory storage, Big-STEM enables different simulations and models to be run at the same time. "We have some projects that would take weeks to run that are now down to hours," Alves-Foss notes.

From McClatchy News Service
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