October 2017


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  Supercomputers and Hurricanes: More than Just Crunching Numbers

A snapshot from the Penn State University next-generation, real-time hurricane analysis and forecast system, enabled by TACC systems. Credit: Fuqing Zhang and Yonghui Weng, Meteorology, Penn State University


Supercomputers and Hurricanes: More than Just Crunching Numbers

The natural disasters over the last month have been horrifying in their scale and toll on life and property. TACC has been supporting researchers and agencies for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in these ways:

  • TACC enabled pre-storm hurricane forecasts by researchers from Penn State.
  • TACC supported storm surge modeling by researchers from UT, LSU and UNC.
  • TACC worked with UT Austin's Center for Space Research to provide infrastructure for their space and airborne imagery, used by first responders.
  • TACC collaborated with UT Austin's Center for Water Resources to run flood forecasts.
  • The TACC-led DesignSafe cyberinfrastructure is allowing researchers to share and analyze post-disaster reconnaissance imagery and assess building damage.

The center has been working hard to provide immediate assistance to scientists and engineers, and we will continue to enable critical natural hazards research in the months and years to come. Below are some recent news stories that showcase TACC's work:



TACC STEM Partnership Wins NSF INCLUDES Grant

TACC, Chaminade University of Honolulu, and the Georgia Institute of Technology won a $300,000 grant to train students from Hawai'i and the Pacific Islands in data science and computational fields. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) initiative will enhance U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics discoveries and innovations by focusing on diversity, inclusion, and broadening participation in these fields



Looking to Nature for the Future of Clean Energy

Solar power is booming worldwide, but current photovoltaics are still too expensive for full-scale, worldwide deployment. Researchers from the University of Texas at El Paso have been using TACC's supercomputers to explore promising new molecules capable of performing artificial photosynthesis, using nature as a model. Writing in Chemical Physics, they described simulations of a photosynthetic antenna capable of transforming several wavelengths of light into energy.



Intel Skylakes Arrive!

The Intel Xeon Skylakes have landed! The Skylake nodes will be used in TACC's Stampede2 supercomputer, the flagship system at The University of Texas at Austin and the most powerful supercomputer at any U.S. university. A strategic national resource, Stampede2 will provide high-performance computing capabilities to thousands of researchers across the U.S. It will enter full production in fall 2017 as an 18-petaflop system that builds on the successes of the original Stampede cluster it replaces. Learn more about the Skylake architecture here.



First Annual "TACC Institutes" Program A Success

The first annual TACC Institutes program was a tremendous success. Approximately 100 attendees from across the U.S. and from five different countries participated in seven Institutes with topics ranging from developing parallel applications for modern high performance computers to visualizing and analyzing large data sets. Participants enjoyed the more topic-focused approach of the new program. Next year TACC will improve the current programs and consider additional Institutes in more domains and on more advanced topics. Interest in next year's programs is already picking up with dozens of people already asking to be notified when registration opens again. Stay tuned!



NSF Renews Cloud Computing Testbed "Chameleon" for Second Phase

A new $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation will extend Chameleon's mission for another three years.

Cloud computing lies behind many of today's most popular technologies from streaming video and music to e-mail and chat services to storing and sharing family photos. Since 2015, the Chameleon testbed has helped researchers push the potential of cloud computing even further, finding novel scientific applications and improving security and privacy. A new grant from the National Science Foundation will extend Chameleon's mission, allowing the project led by University of Chicago with partners at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), and Northwestern University to enter its next phase of cloud computing innovation.

"In phase one we built a testbed. But in phase two we're going to transform this testbed into a scientific instrument," said Kate Keahey, Argonne computer scientist and Chameleon principal investigator.



TACC Hosts the 2017 Innovation Summit in Health & Technology

Technology advancement is generating new and exciting opportunities at the intersection of medicine and healthcare. Areas like precision medicine, eHealth, and remote medicine are moving beyond R&D to cost-effective deployment. This month, TACC hosted the IEEE Innovation Summit in Healthcare & Technology. It provided a forum for engineers, clinicians, healthcare providers and industry experts to define clinical needs and collaborate on technology solutions for present and future healthcare challenges. Speakers included prominent leaders from the Dell Medical School, City of Austin, and TACC.


Buildings vs. Earthquakes: High School Students Learn the Science

What if high school kids could make a building stand up to an earthquake? A summer camp at TACC taught students the science behind designing building to sustain earthquakes. Thirty high school students from Texas and Louisiana sharpened their skills in civil engineering and computation at a summer camp called Code@TACC DesignSafe, an education program inspired by the natural hazard cyberinfrastructure funded by the National Science Foundation. The students spent a week at TACC and designed their own building models outfitted with sensors that recorded movement as the structures were shaken under laboratory conditions based on historical earthquake data.



"R" You High Performance?

One of the most popular data analysis tools on the market today is R, a free, powerful, open source software package with extensive statistical computing and graphics capabilities. TACC researchers performed detailed performance studies to determine the benefits of using R on high performance computing and with many-core architectures. They also trained more than 250 researchers in the use of R for scientific computing. Examples of parallel R in recent research include efforts to explain patterns in stock prices and to predict disease outbreaks from public health data.



Welcome, Salvador (Sal) Tijerina!

TACC welcomes Salvador Tijerina! He comes to us from UT Austin's Center for Transportation Research and is a member of the Web and Mobile Applications team as part of the Advanced Computing Interfaces group. Sal has a B.S. in Astrophysics from Rice University and will be working on the DesignSafe project.



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