Locating the impossible with 'lightening fast' speed

Dec 20, 2010 By Jason Kornwitz
Locating the impossible with 'lightening fast' speed
Northeastern University PhD students Perhaad Mistry (left) and Dana Schaa (right) work in their campus office. Both students recently presented GPU-computing research at Supercomputing'10 in New Orleans, the largest computer show in the world. Credit: Mary Knox Merrill

A terrorist plants a time bomb along a gas line in a residential neighborhood. He e-mails a photo of the death trap to law enforcement officials, but no one can tell exactly where the bomb is located. 

The solution may lie in work being done in Northeastern University's Computer Architecture Research Laboratory, where electrical and computer engineering professor David Kaeli and his team have developed supercomputing hardware/software technology to pinpoint the location of people, buildings—or even bombs—10 to 15 times faster than traditional computing methods. 

Northeastern researchers are collaborating on the project with colleagues at the University of Virginia and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a Sunnyvale, California-based company that develops computer processors for the commercial and consumer sectors.

The innovative technology, which aligns with Northeastern’s commitment to research that solves global challenges in health, security and sustainability, showcases the value of using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to help protect the nation’s critical infrastructure, said Kaeli. 

“GPU technology will have huge implications for the intelligence community,” he said, noting the plan to open-source the application in the near future.

Here’s how it works: A user uploads a photo to an image database such as Google Earth. The GPU-based application enables the user to run a lightning-fast search, comparing the photo against images in the database until it finds a match.

“There’s no application like it,” said Perhaad Mistry a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering who helped develop the idea while on co-op at AMD. “Pinpointing certain people or places needs to be done quickly.”

Industry leaders have recently recognized Northeastern’s cutting-edge research in this area of supercomputing.

• NVIDIA, a multinational company that develops graphics processing units, designated Northeastern’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital, as a NVIDIA CUDA Research Center for its ongoing development of GPU-accelerated medical image analysis tools. (CUDA stands for Compute Unified Device Architecture, a parallel computing architecture developed by NVIDIA.)

• AMD named Northeastern a Strategic Academic Research Partner for conducting research with the company’s GPUs. AMD also awarded Northeastern a $65,000 grant to conduct GPU-research and invited the Northeastern team to present at Supercomputing 2010, the largest international conference on high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis. 

Kaeli is proud of the partnership. “AMD is a major employer of Northeastern students and a leader in the field of GPU computing,” he said.

Explore further: Spanish scientists create algorithms to measure sentiment on social networks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NVIDIA GPUs power world's fastest supercomputer

Oct 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NVIDIA has built the worldэs fastest supercomputer using 7,000 of its graphics processor chips. With a horsepower equivalent to 175,000 laptop computers, its sustained performance is ...

Health-improving tattoos

Nov 22, 2010

Heather Clark isn’t your average tattoo artist. She won't take requests, and her tattoos won’t be permanent. They won’t even make people look hip — but they will keep them healthier.

NVIDIA Ushers In the Era of Personal Supercomputing

Jun 21, 2007

High-performance computing in fields like the geosciences, molecular biology, and medical diagnostics enable discoveries that transform billions of lives every day. Universities, research institutions, and ...

AMD showcases 'Llano' Fusion APU

Oct 19, 2010

At the 6th Annual AMD Technical Forum & Exhibition (TFE) 2010, AMD today showcased for its ecosystem partners the first public demonstration of the forthcoming AMD Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) codenamed “Llano ...

Recommended for you

Key decisions on drones likely from Congress

6 hours ago

The Obama administration is on the verge of proposing long-awaited rules for commercial drone operations in U.S. skies, but key decisions on how much access to grant drones are likely to come from Congress ...

N. Korea suffers another Internet shutdown

Dec 27, 2014

North Korea suffered an Internet shutdown for at least two hours on Saturday, Chinese state-media and cyber experts said, after Pyongyang blamed Washington for an online blackout earlier this week.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.