Monday, April 27, 2015

Supercomputer in Chile helps scientists to discover 61 supernovas in only 6 nights

Leftraru supercomputer, the second most powerful supercomputer in Latin America, helped scientists from the Mathematics Modeling Center (CMM) of the University of Chile to detect 61 supernova explosions just a few days before they appeared in the universe. For comparison, previously those explosions were only spotted once every hundred years. To achieve this spectacular result, the team leaded by Francisco Foster started by monitoring the sky from the Observatory Cerro Tololo with a Dark Energy Camera (DECam), the second best in the world for this kind of measurements. Almost a hundred thousand images were sent over about 500 KM to the Leftraru supercomputer at CMM. The supercomputer then analyzed the images (over a billion pixels) with an algorithm that has been developed and optimized since 2013 to recognize supernovas, asteroids and other objects. The scientists have been "teaching" the computer how to recognize supernovas, using machine learning algorithms and supervised learning. 

The parallel algorithm was initially created in 2013. A first experiment was tried in 2014, and the team discovered 12 of those supernovas. The program was optimized during 2014 and this recent experiment in 2015 showed that the new version can detect over five times more supernovas than the previous version. Once the supernovas are detected, the supercomputer raises an alert and a notification is sent to the other observatories around the world, giving the coordinates the telescopes should point, in order to observe the new cosmic event.

The results were so impressive, that Forster and his team were invited to present their work at the DECam community science workshop in Arizona USA. This success story not only shows the impact of HPC in our society but also that Latin America can be an important player in the quest for scientific discovery.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The 44th edition of the Argentinian computer science seminars

The Argentina Society for Computer Science (SADIO) is organizing the 44th edition of the Argentinian computer science seminars. They will take place from August 31 to September 4th at the Rosario University Campus. International researchers, professors, undergraduate and graduate students are expected to gather for this event. In the last edition, about 8000 participants presented 195 works and posters, which added to the other internal workshops and panels made almost 290 presentations and activities. Activities such as the Argentinian seminar for Big Data will be of great interest for students and researchers specialized in large scale computing and data intensive systems. A complete list of the activities can be found at the JAIIO 2015 website. Last year, the event featured talks from Intel and Facebook among other big players of the data intensive computing community.

Many activities are organized, including several student contests. In a previous edition, engineering students Cecilia Balesteri, Araceli Martin and Cecilia Romitti presented a model of neural network that could estimate the risk of student withdrawal in their engineering faculty. They won one of the prizes given at the event. They estimate the experience as a wonderful opportunity to extend their knowledge and to meet many academic and industrial researchers. 

This is a wonderful opportunity for students to meet with students from other universities and exchange their experience and vision of the domain. It is also a good occasion to interact with international researchers for those looking for internship opportunities or to continue their studies abroad.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Supercomputing Laboratory Starting in Record Time

As we previously covered here, Mexico approved its third national laboratory in May, 2014. Now, after less than one year since its announcement, the National Supercomputing Laboratory of the Southeast of Mexico (LNS) has started its operations in March, 2015. LNS is held at the Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) and is expected to help develop high-impact projects in the region.

Following its vision of "being a national reference with international presence in computing services of high specialization, self-sustainable and in the technology vanguard", LNS is expected to support from 25 to 30 research projects in its first stage. This will be done by providing training courses and access to its supercomputer, referred to as LNS too. 

LNS's supercomputer was acquired from Fujitsu and counts with a mostly homogeneous infrastructure. It possesses around 150 Tflops of computing power, 14 TB of memory and 200 TB of storage. The resources are split over 210 computes nodes with four different setups:
  • 204 thin nodes with two 12-cores Haswell processors and 128 GB of memory;
  • 2 accelerated nodes similar to thin nodes but with two Xeon Phi 7120p coprocessors each;
  • 2 accelerated nodes similar to thin nodes but with two Kepler K40 coprocessors each; and
  • 2 fat nodes with four 15-cores Haswell processors and 1 TB of memory.
Besides providing an HPC platform for local researchers, LNS will help in international projects involving institutions like the High Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Researchers should be able to register new user accounts soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HPC Resources for the Latin American Integration

"A University without Boundaries" is the motto of the Federal University of Latin American Integration (UNILA, from its Portuguese acronym), a public university created in 2010 that harmonizes the education and research needs of several countries in Latin America in areas related to social studies and natural resources, among others. UNILA's courses are taught in Portuguese and Spanish to accommodate its students and faculty members coming from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. UNILA is strategically located in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, a city with borders with Argentina and Paraguay.

In order to enable research in applied sciences, UNILA counts with its High Performance Computing Laboratory (LCAD) since 2012. The laboratory seeks to provide computational support to researchers from any education or research institution in Latin America, not being restricted to UNILA staff only. This is done mainly by providing access to its cluster named HPC-Lattes. 

HPC-Lattes is a Bull cluster with three kinds of nodes that support applications with different requirements. Their kinds and numbers are listed below.
  • Fifteen thin nodes are composed of two 6-core Westmere processors and 24 GB of memory. They are used for general parallel applications.
  • Eight accelerated nodes that add two M2050 Fermi GPUs to the usual thin node configuration. They are available for accelerated applications and applications with higher processing requirements.
  • Five fat nodes are composed of four 8-cores Nehalem processors and 256 GB of memory. They are used for shared memory applications and applications with higher memory requirements. 
In total, HPC-Lattes provides 12.16 TFLOPS distributed over 404 CPU and 7168 GPU cores, 1.8 TB of memory and 36 TB of storage. If you are now considering requesting an account on HPC-Lattes to develop your research, the application form can be found here.