In a temperature-controlled room in a remote part of the campus, rows of computers buzz, blink and buzz in a high-performance computing (HPC) center called DEAC (Distributed Environment for Academic Computing).
Last year, the central HPC system processed more than 21 million base hours from more than 650,000 tasks submitted by Wake Forest researchers. It also hosts a huge amount of central data that is supported and maintained by the HPC team within the university’s Information Systems (IS) department.
to me EdTech . Magazine, High-performing resources are a competitive differentiating factor for institutions seeking to hire top researchers – especially those at universities that support research, teaching, and learning and regularly upgrade their networks. A centrally maintained HPC means departmental funds and professorships can be used to support teaching and research rather than technology.
Two decades ago, the Wake Forest Department of Physics formed the first HPC group on the Reynolda campus, which has since evolved into a central Information Systems Resources, used by many departments, downtown campus and medical school. Since then, IS has invested heavily in the cluster, expanding the team and updating hardware as research needs grow. Empowering and accelerating researchers and research remains a top priority for the department as shown in IT Strategic plan.
HPC is changing the future of research
For researchers, what makes HPC powerful, in part, is its ability to break data into sections and speed up data collection by running more than one form of code simultaneously.
Adam Carlson, a senior HPC systems administrator at IS, compares HPC to checking in at the grocery store on a busy day. “If there is only one line open, the process is time consuming. But once multiple aisles are open and carts can be scanned at once instead of one at a time. I finished quickly.”
Carlson and fellow managing directors Shawn Anderson and kodi Stevens HPC team formation. They upload or create code, solve problems and solve problems for faculty and students of any discipline who want to find quick ways to analyze a lot of data.
“For many of us, the HPC is an essential component of our research and teaching efforts,” said physics professor Natalie Holsworth, founding member of the Department of Physics group in 2002. It uses HPC to model the properties of materials that might be candidates for solid electrolytes for use in battery technology.