Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Canada's Fastest Computer Simulates Galaxies, Black Holes

Date:
July 30, 2003
Source:
University Of Toronto
Summary:
A $900,000 supercomputer at the University of Toronto - the fastest computer in Canada -- is heating up astrophysics research in this country and burning its way up the list of the world's fastest computers.

July 21, 2003 -- A $900,000 supercomputer at the University of Toronto - the fastest computer in Canada -- is heating up astrophysics research in this country and burning its way up the list of the world's fastest computers.

The new computer, part of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA), was ranked as the fastest computer in Canada and the 39th fastest in the world in the latest list from http://www.top500.org, compiled by the Universities of Mannheim and Tennessee and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"An essential element of modern astrophysics is the ability to carry out large-scale simulations of the cosmos, to complement the amazing observations being undertaken," said Professor Peter Martin, chair of astronomy and astrophysics and a CITA investigator. "With the simulations possible on this computer, we have in effect a laboratory where we can test our understanding of astronomical phenomena ranging from the development of structure in the universe over 14 billion years to the development of new planets in star-forming systems today."

When the computer, created by the HPC division of Mynix Technology of Montreal (now a part of Ciara Technologies), starts its calculations, the 512 individual central processing units can heat up to 65 C, requiring extra ventilation and air-conditioning to keep the unit functioning.

But with that heat comes the capability of performing more than one trillion calculations per second, opening the door to more complex and comprehensive simulations of the universe. It is the only Canadian machine to break the Teraflop barrier -- one trillion calculations per second -- and it's the fastest computer in the world devoted to a wide spectrum of astrophysics research.

"This new computer lets us solve a variety of problems with better resolution than can be achieved with any other supercomputer in Canada," said Chris Loken, CITA's computing facility manager. "Astrophysics is a science that needs a lot of computer horsepower and memory and that's what this machine can provide. The simulations are also enabled by in-house development of sophisticated parallel numerical codes that fully exploit the computer's capabilities."

The machine, nicknamed McKenzie (after the McKenzie Brothers comedy sketch on SCTV), with 268 gigabytes of memory and 40 terabytes of disk space, consists of two master nodes (Bob and Doug), 256 compute nodes, and eight development nodes. All of these are networked together using a novel gigabit networking scheme that was developed and implemented at CITA. Essentially, the two gigabit Ethernet ports on each node are used to create a "mesh" that connects every machine directly to another machine and to one of 17 inexpensive gigabit switches. It took four people about two days and two kilometres of cable to connect this network. The unique CITA design drives down the networking cost in the computer by at least a factor of five and the innovative system has attracted industry attention.

Professor John Dubinski has used the new computer to examine both the formation of cosmological structure and the collisions of galaxies by simulating the gravitational interaction of hundreds of millions of particles representing stars and the mysterious dark matter. The anticipated collision of the Milky Way Galaxy with our neighbouring Andromeda galaxy - an event predicted to take place in three billion years time - has been modeled at unprecedented resolution.

New simulations on the formation of supermassive black holes, again with the highest resolution to date, have been carried out by his colleagues Professors Ue-Li Pen and Chris Matzner. They have already uncovered clues which may explain the mystery of why the black hole at the center of our galaxy is so much fainter than had been expected theoretically.

The team has even grander plans for the future. "In astrophysics at the University of Toronto we have continually exploited the latest computing technology to meet our requirements, always within a modest budget," Martin said. "This is a highly competitive science and to maintain our lead we are planning a computer some ten times more powerful."

Funding for the computer was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Toronto. "Canada's Fastest Computer Simulates Galaxies, Black Holes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 July 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725081224.htm>.
University Of Toronto. (2003, July 30). Canada's Fastest Computer Simulates Galaxies, Black Holes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725081224.htm
University Of Toronto. "Canada's Fastest Computer Simulates Galaxies, Black Holes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030725081224.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Mystery Barge Headed For The Scrap Yard

Google Mystery Barge Headed For The Scrap Yard

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) — We may never know what was going on inside one of Google's mystery barges in Portland, Maine as it's now headed for the scrap yard. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) — Dustin Moskovitz is plotting an escape from email, using his communications expertise in an attempt to change the way people connect at work, where the incessant drumbeat of email has become an excruciating annoyance. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) — Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) — The deal will help build a massive battery factory that Tesla says will produce 500,000 lithium batteries by 2020. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins