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Q&A: Diving Deep Into Our Solar System

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Anthony Mezzacappa, director of the University of Tennessee–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, and a team of computational astrophysicists are conducting one of the largest supernova simulations to date on ORNL’s “Titan” supercomputer. Titan, which is a hybrid Cray® XK7™ supercomputer, is managed by the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility on behalf of the Department of Energy. Dr. Mezzacappa answers our questions about his team’s work on Titan. Q: Why is understanding what triggers a supernova explosion so important? A: Supernovae are ultimately responsible for why you and I are here. The class of supernova that our team studies is known as core-collapse supernovae, and this type … [Read more...]

Recent Crash Test Results Highlight the Need for Enhanced Simulation

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In July the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) published crash test results for the “small overlap front crash test,” in which only one of the 12 cars tested earned a “good” rating.  These results, combined with the results of earlier tests, led Consumer Reports to publish a headline reading, “Most Small Cars Bomb New Small-Overlap Crash Test.” At the same time, Nissan presented an excellent paper on the computer simulation challenges of the small overlap test. This is an example of the increasingly stringent requirements for automotive safety and why the use of high performance computing (HPC) for crash safety simulation is critical in the automotive design process. There are dozens of crash load cases evaluated … [Read more...]

Exascale Computing for Seismic Exploration

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The exascale race — toward machines capable of executing 1 quintillion (1018) operations per second — is well under way. The U.S., Japan, China and Europe have all established programs to enable exascale capabilities by around 2020. In the U.S., leading the charge toward significant HPC milestones usually falls to the Department of Energy (DOE): Both its Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration have significant interest in and benefit from ever-increasing levels of modeling, simulation and data-processing capabilities for a variety of applications. Both can leverage critical resources (facilities and people), institutional expertise and deep know-how, if not intellectual property, in this pursuit. Not all … [Read more...]

Unconventional ways Supercomputers are Used: Part 2

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We talk a lot about how high performance computing systems are on the forefront of science, but it's also fun to take a step back and look at some of the more unusual ways that supercomputers are impacting our lives. In a previous post, I discussed how supercomputing systems are being used in everything from ice cream physics to baseball and dirty diapers. Now we're back with part two of our series on unconventional uses of supercomputers. The Lord of the Rings Considering this movie’s high-flying, detailed special effects, I'm not surprised the director, Peter Jackson, turned to supercomputing to help create these lifelike experiences. To make the weather, buildings and vegetation accurate enough to turn J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth … [Read more...]

Supercomputers: The Solution to Physical Test Limitations in Automotive Manufacturing

During the past few decades the world of science has changed, moving from physical experimentation alone to an environment in which simulations are of primary importance. In the automotive industry, research and design is now so advanced that it’s following in the footsteps of science and moving away from physical testing. Supercomputing has allowed automobile manufacturers to transition to a simulation-driven world. The innovative use of new materials in vehicle design is becoming the norm for automotive manufacturers — honeycomb structures and increased aluminum use being an example. With more advanced design elements coming into play, numerous manufacturing challenges are emerging; including the need for a greater number of … [Read more...]