High-Performance Computing

U Michigan Designs Data-Centric Supercomputer

Researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M), in collaboration with IBM, have designed a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster with the goal of advancing predictive modeling in computational science.

The HPC cluster, named ConFlux, is hosted at U-M's Center for Data-Driven Computational Physics and enables "large scale data-driven modeling of multiscale physical systems," according to information on the center's site. This type of data modeling is very challenging and requires HPC applications running on external clusters to connect with large data sets at run time.

"The recent acceleration in computational power and measurement resolution has made possible the availability of extreme scale simulations and data sets," said Karthik Duraisamy, director of U-M's Center for Data-Driven Computational Physics, in a prepared statement. "ConFlux allows us to bring together large scale scientific computing and machine learning for the first time to accomplish research that was previously impossible."

Some of the large-scale, data-driven research projects that will use ConFlux include:

  • A collaboration with NASA to use cognitive techniques to simulate turbulence around aircraft and rocket engines;
  • A project for the National Institutes of Health that combines noninvasive imaging with a physical model of blood flow to help doctors estimate artery stiffness;
  • Studying how clouds interact with atmospheric circulation in order to better understand climate science;
  • Research into the origins of the universe and stellar evolution; and
  • Predictions of the behavior of biologically inspired materials.

ConFlux was funded by a $2.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation and an additional $1.04 million from the University of Michigan.

IBM is providing servers and software solutions for ConFlux. Several members of the OpenPower Foundation, an open, collaborative technical community based on IBM'S Power architecture, also contributed to its development. 

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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