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Wee Archie: Digital Dinos Put Bite-Sized Supercomputer Through Its Paces


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The custom cluster housing of Wee ARCHIE.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed a miniature supercomputer that replicates high-performance computing techniques.

Credit: Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre

University of Edinburgh researchers have developed Wee ARCHIE, a miniature supercomputer that powers virtual dinosaur races.

Wee ARCHIE replicates in miniature high-performance computing techniques to simulate races between on-screen Argentinosaurus.

Wee ARCHIE and its larger namesake, the ARCHER supercomputer, use parallel-computing systems that enable many calculations to be completed instantaneously on different microprocessors. The portable Wee ARCHIE displays the types of hardware found inside the world's most powerful supercomputers.

"We will use Wee ARCHIE to engage schoolchildren with supercomputing, and show them the huge benefits that the technology can bring to scientific research," says University of Edinburgh researcher Lorna Smith.

The miniature supercomputer contains 18 credit card-sized processors housed inside a custom-made case. Light-emitting diode displays on each of the processors light up when they are in use, showing how multiple parts of a parallel-computing system work together to perform complex tasks.

The program lets users change the structure of dinosaurs' joints and muscles, modifying their ability to run. Wee ARCHIE analyzes each of the configurations quickly, and presents the results as an on-screen score.

From University of Edinburgh
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