Page 97 - UCT Research Report 2011

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Portland Group and the Daresbury Laboratory in the UK,
they have been able to not only push the boundaries of
their own work, but also have a say in the technology that
is used in scientific research across the globe.
“Our strategy is to spend 50 to 60 percent of our efforts
on the development of methods for use in chemistry,
quantum chemistry, physics, quantum physics, biology,
and so on,” explains Professor Naidoo.
So, for example, their insights went into the testing and
development of Portland’s suite of graphical processing
unit (GPU) compilers – the computing translating program
that drives graphics processing units, now de rigueur for
high-performance computing systems and in scientific
computing. Similarly, they helped Daresbury adapt
their quantum software GAMESS UK into computational
chemistry code.
“The application of such technology – the type that is found
in gaming consoles – to science, will exponentially expand
the power of the next generation of high-performance
computers,” says Professor Naidoo. “This will allow
scientists to simulate more realistic models of natural
systems, making computing as the third mode of scientific
enquiry a significant reality.”
Home-grown HPC
But although not everyone needs the high-end
computing power or the ready access demanded by
CERECAM and the SCRU, there is a rising demand for
high-performance computing on a smaller scale around
the university. However, up until a few years ago, those
departments, units and research groups that did have a
need for it had to borrow computing power from outside
of UCT or set up their own HPC nodes.
When Izak (Sakkie) Janse van Rensburg took over as
Executive Director of Information and Communication
Technology Services (ICTS) at UCT, that changed.
Within a short time of taking office, he had convinced
the university to fund an HPC node within ICTS, a
scaled-down complement to, for instance, the services
offered by the nearby Centre for High Performance
Computing or even the South African National Grid,
which pools computing resources from institutions and
centres across the country.
“We have many researchers who are either just
developing their work or are moving into new areas,
and need access to a smaller system at UCT like the
ICTS HPC node,” says Janse van Rensburg.
Jesse Macadangdang (left) and Dr Thomas Franz of UCT’s Cardiovascular Research Unit (CVRU) start preparatory work
on their new collaboration with the national Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) and CERECAM. The three-
year research project, funded by the CHPC, is an exercise in computational biomechanics and will explore possible
treatments for myocardial infarction (heart attacks).