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DOST grants 500M for UP supercomputer

from INQ7.net


THE DEPARTMENT of Science and Technology (DOST) recently awarded a 500-million-peso budget to the University of the Philippines Computational Science Research Center (CSRC) for a cluster of high-performance computers.
The computers will be deployed in clusters and will act as a single supercomputer. The clustered computers will have an increased computing power that can handle very large computations.

Dr. Vincent Ricardo Daria, newly appointed director of the CSRC, said the supercomputer will consist of at least 32 nodes of 3.2-GHz dual-processor computers. UP can choose between Intel Xeon dual processors or the 64-bit Itanium processor series.

However, he said they are still open to other technical specifications for the supercomputers, which opens doors to IBM’s PowerPC processor as well as AMD’s 64-bit Opteron processors.

“These are just basic requirements, but that could change once we start bidding out early next year,” Daria said.

Once built, Daria said their supercomputer would be the most powerful in the country, and will serve the computing requirements in other fields of science. Among these are biology and bioinformatics, physics, meteorology, volcanology and geological sciences.

Daria also said they are looking at using open source operating systems for the supercomputer, though there are options to use proprietary applications depending on the computing needs of each field of science.

“The supercomputer opens up a venue for interdisciplinary studies. Local research centers that need very large computations only need to approach the CSRC to meet their needs,” Daria said.

Daria said that the CSRC used to have another cluster of high-performance computers, the DEC Alpha from the former Digital Equipment Corp. However, these machines lacked maintenance and became obsolete as chip manufacturers increased the computing power of processors. The Alpha processors are no longer in production.

Supercomputers are among the most powerful and expensive computing hardware in the world, and are mainly used to compute or solve complex mathematical problems. These machines can create simulated models of real-world environments depending on the parameters set by the researcher. For instance, a biologist can simulate the growth of a protein based on statistical data. Meteorologists can also make accurate and more advanced forecasts of weather or climate changes.

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