UA Researchers Using Arkansas’ First Supercomputer
Researchers at the University of Arkansas have already produced results using Red Diamond, the state’s first supercomputer, and they have plans for more – developing the molecular structures of potential new drugs, examining tornados and volcanoes, and modeling global climate change. The machine boasts a cluster of 128 dual-processor computers and operates approximately 256 times faster than the typical new desktop computer.
“Red Diamond will help solve some of the most challenging science and engineering problems in the world today, said Amy Apon, associate professor of computer science and engineering and the leader of the effort to bring the supercomputer to the university. “UA researchers have already used Red Diamond to calculate the molecular structure of new nanomaterials.”
Red Diamond also has been named to a prestigious list as one the most powerful computers in the world. Twice a year, TOP500 provides an updated list of the world’s most powerful computers at corporations, government laboratories and universities. Red Diamond made the list at No. 379 by demonstrating that it could solve a single problem at a speed of 1.349 teraflops. The Web site is: http://www.top500.org/lists/2005/06/.
Today’s supercomputers can typically solve a single problem at a rate of more than one teraflop per second. “Flops,” or floating-point operations per second, is a complex mathematical calculation to measure the speed at which a computer can process data. “Tera” stands for one trillion, so supercomputers produce one or more trillion computing operations, or steps, per second.
There are also kiloflops (one thousand), megaflops (one million) and gigaflops (one billion). A new, personal computer with a speedy processor operates at three to six gigaflops, or three billion to six billion operations per second.
Supplied by Dell Computers and paid for by a research grant from the National Science Foundation and matching funds from the University of Arkansas, Red Diamond is helping researchers solve challenging scientific and engineering problems. Specifically, the supercomputer will help solve problems with calculating the molecular formulas for new drugs, predicting the behavior of tornados and volcanoes, and storing and retrieving massively large amounts of data using both conventional computer technology and the DNA structure of biological material. By connecting to other supercomputers on a global computing grid, Red Diamond will also allow the university to participate in collaborative research projects with other institutions.