As mathematics and life sciences researchers seek to unlock mysteries to better our lives and our planet, the processing of large experimental data sets and ever-growing simulations demand ever-expanding computational power
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Sunnyvale, Calif. (Vocus) December 21, 2006
To address a wide range of complex mathematical problems and statistical research projects, professors and researchers in a number of national and international universities are harnessing the shared-memory processing power of SGI® (NASDAQ: SGIC) high performance compute technology. Recently, the University of Guelph, in Ontario, purchased a number of complete, turn-key SGI® Altix® systems with SGI® InfiniteStorage arrays for projects ranging from the study of biofilms for environmental cleanup purposes to pure and applied mathematics.
The University of Guelph purchased two SGI Altix systems with SGI InfiniteStorage, all fully installed by Q4FY06, for intense mathematical and statistical simulations and the study of physical and biological phenomena. Based on their extensive proposals, the University's Department of Mathematics and Statistics obtained a number of Federal and Provincial grants for the purchases. The first was the highest "Research Tools and Instruments (RTI), Category 1" grant ever awarded by Canada's National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for "Pure and Applied Mathematics (B)."
The second SGI Altix system was obtained from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) - New Opportunities Fund program - by a team of five applied mathematicians from diverse areas (biomathematics: Chris Bauch and Allan Willms; dynamical systems and operations research: Monica-Gabriela Cojocaru (PI); optimization: Hristo Sendov; and quantum information and computing: David Kribs). This is the largest grant awarded to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics so far, with matching funds from Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT).
"The whole point in selecting SGI was because we were interested in a turn-key, fully integrated, fully supported solution," said Larry Banks, IT manager for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Guelph. "We were not really looking at buying component parts and having to assemble them ourselves. We wanted a viable system right from the get-go, and that's what we got."
Department of Mathematics and Statistics applications that will use the SGI Altix systems include a biomathematics group studying evolutionary algorithms on one side, and several diverse projects investigating problems in epidemiology, dynamics of network equilibria applied, quantum error correction algorithms and semidefinite programming on the other. Game theory, discrete mathematics, parameter identification and inverse problems will also address a variety of different applied mathematics research areas.
The Principal Investigator for the first SGI Altix acquisition at the University of Guelph is Hermann Eberl, associate professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and a recently appointed Canada Research Chair in Applied Mathematics in Life Science and Engineering. Eberl and his group are using one of the SGI Altix systems for computational simulations of processes in microbiology, studying biofilm processes in order to control bad biofilms (such as plaque on teeth) and enhance good ones (such as bacteria that eat pollution out of sewage).
"Many of the problems that we are solving on the computer mathematically are fairly unique models so these types of equations don't show up in other applications," said Eberl. "We use numerical libraries for some aspects, for standard tasks, and then for the biofilms we have to work from scratch and write programs ourselves. The nice thing about the Altix running on Linux is that we can use the same compilers that we use on our desktop PCs, and this is a big benefit. Using the Intel compilers for Linux, we can develop our codes on the PCs and do small simulations and then, without trouble, move them over to the Altix system compilers, and run much bigger problems."
The Principal Investigator (PI) for the second SGI Altix acquisition at the University of Guelph is Monica Cojocaru, University Faculty Award assistant professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the first female PI in mathematics at Guelph to receive a CFI-OIT grant. She plans to use the SGI Altix computational power to simulate and compute the dynamic equilibrium states of networks and supernetworks applied to transportation and Internet traffic problems, and to vaccination strategies under a voluntary vaccination policy.
Both Eberl and Banks expect that most individual researchers will write custom applications suited to their specific projects while also making use of third-party software, such as Maple 10, and libraries that are readily available on the Internet, such as PetSC.
University of Guelph, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, purchased an SGI® Altix® 330 system with 16 Intel® Itanium® 2 processors for bio-mathematics simulation, installed in the first quarter 2006. The University also purchased an SGI® Altix® 350 system with 32 Intel Itanium 2 processors for advanced mathematics, which was installed in the second quarter. The two SGI Altix systems are being integrated and backed by - to start - one-half terabyte of disk storage. Both systems use Novell® SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server, Version 9, and were purchased through SGI reseller Helios Oceana, a subsidiary of On The Go Health Services.
"As mathematics and life sciences researchers seek to unlock mysteries to better our lives and our planet, the processing of large experimental data sets and ever-growing simulations demand ever-expanding computational power," said Michael Brown, sciences market segment manager for SGI. "In particular, mathematical researchers are always developing new approaches to solving problems, and the ready to use, single system performance and flexibility provided by SGI Altix shared memory systems enables them to more quickly develop those unique solutions. As can be seen by its early and continued adoption in these and other areas of research, the SGI Altix system effortlessly delivers the reliable, heavy lifting needed, while SGI InfiniteStorage solutions provide the economical path to high-performance, easily expandable storage."
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