Technology designed to blast aliens in games now part of new computer cluster

November 25th, 2009 - 3:40 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, November 25 (ANI): Reports indicate that the technology designed to blast aliens in computer games is part of a new GPU (Graphics Processing Units) computer cluster that will process CSIRO research data thousands of times faster and more efficiently than a desktop PC.

The new GPU cluster will allow CSIRO scientists to explore what may well be the next generation approach to supercomputing, the use of GPU technology for parallel processing.

The first of its kind in Australia, the cluster is about the size of six large refrigerators and contains 61,440 compute cores.

CSIRO Computational and Simulation Science leader Dr John Taylor said that the computer cluster combines Central Processing Units (CPUs) like those in PCs with more powerful Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to make it more efficient.

“GPUs have been around a while, hidden in your computer game console but now we’re seeing them in scientific computing,” Dr Taylor said.

“They were initially designed to render 3D scenes in computer games,” he said.

“GPUs speed up data processing by allowing a computer to massively multi-task through parallel processing,” he added.

Per unit of processing power, a GPU cluster is typically less expensive and more energy efficient than a CPU-based supercomputer.

GPUs are not just useful for image data, they can tackle big science challenges - processing petabytes of data and more, very quickly.

Projects to be run on the cluster include figuring out where tiny fragments of genetic code sit on a genome, 3D reconstruction of medical images from the Australian Synchrotron, and modelling the interactions between nutrients and plankton in the oceans.

Using GPUs to analyse complex research data is becoming a global trend in computing.

“It’s pleasing to see the first installation of a GPU cluster in Australia,” CSIRO Information Sciences Group Executive Dr Alex Zelinsky said.

“This cluster will be part of our family of high-end computers in CSIRO and important to our e-Research Strategy,” he added.

It will be used for research in advanced materials, cloud computing, data and visualisation tools, genetics and more. (ANI)

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