The #3 most powerful computer at a U.S. public university

February 2, 2018
Christine Coombes

The University of Florida’s recent move into the U.S. News and World Report top 10 standing has only propelled this Research I university forward and set their sights even higher. In order to continue its trajectory, UF is in the process of recruiting 500 of the finest investigators who are conducting and producing the highest caliber of research. That is made possible with the help of UF’s HiPerGator supercomputer.

HiPerGator is the most powerful supercomputer in Florida, the most powerful university supercomputer in the Southern U.S. and the third-fastest university supercomputer in the country, according to the latest world rankings. Originally unveiled in 2013, HiPerGator was already state of the art. But, Gators are not ones to rest on their laurels. In 2015 HiPerGator 2.0 came to life adding 30,000 cores to the already impressive 21,000, doubling the terabytes of RAM and increasing the maximum speed by nearly 1,000 teraflops. To put this into perspective for the less tech-savvy reader, HiPerGator can hold:

  • Nearly 21 million times more data than the computer program on Apollo 11 that put a man on the moon
  • 240 million books. This is more than the Library of Congress plus the nation’s Top 25 public libraries.
  • Nearly 40 years of HD-TV video.

“Supercomputing and BIGDATA are terms used on campus all the time.  But when you learn what is actually being done—in human terms, not technical terms—it is so exciting and humbling,” says Elias Eldayrie, vice president and chief information officer at the University of Florida.  “We have renowned scientists analyzing the effects that having HIV has in Alzheimer’s patients. We have faculty collaborating with colleagues in other states, evaluating data to improve early childhood medical care in underserved communities. We have postdoctoral students studying the epidemiological patterns of Cholera in Haiti and HIV transmission patterns in South Africa. And we have English faculty curating social media data to understand the ways digital platforms influence opinion. The work taking place at the University of Florida has the power to transform society.  And that power comes from our faculty’s imagination…and HiPerGator.”

“Having HiPerGator available is instrumental in the research I do at UF,” explains Steve Coombes, Ph.D., assistant professor in Applied Physiology & Kinesiology at UF. “We’re interested in the structure of the brain after a stroke. Collecting and analyzing images of brains from people who haven’t experienced a stroke helps us track the different motor pathways in the brain. Knowing which part of the tract is damaged after a stroke may be extremely helpful in predicting recovery.”

Utilizing 3,000 HiPerGator cores, the images of Coombes’ team were processed in three months. Without HiPerGator’s processing power, analyzing the data on a single computer would have taken 42 years.

UFIT Research Computing is constantly refining and updating its services to the university community. Some of the latest advancements include “ResVault.” This is the super-secure environment for storing and processing meeting the rules specified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and mandated for all federal grants involving restricted data, like export controlled research and patient health information. Additionally, UF was one of the first universities to successfully set up and deploy a FISMA-compliant environment.

UFIT Research Computing is also home to a staff of professionals that train, support, and consult faculty and students in evaluating the best way to analyze data or offer expertise in the complex software available to them.

According to Erik Deumens, Ph.D., director of UF research computing, “as a scientist and computer engineer, I like to list the amazing specs and capabilities of UF’s supercomputer, but what is truly important to the university is the research our faculty and students are able to carry out with this resource. At UF, we strive every day to move the world forward and tackle problems and challenges that plague the world. HiPerGator supports our researchers to make that possible.”

To learn more about HiPerGator, visit here.
To view videos on the capabilities of HiPerGator and how UF researchers use it, visit here and here.

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