Scientists build GPU cluster for subatomic calculations

February 14, 2012
Scientists build GPU cluster for subatomic calculations
Fermilab’s Amitoj Singh and Don Holmgren examine one of the new GPUs used for lattice QCD calculations. Photo: Brad Hooker

The latest addition to computing power at DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is a 45-teraflop cluster of graphics processing units that scientists use to explore the properties of the strong nuclear force. The GPU nodes power through data faster than any other computing nodes at more than five times the rate of the processing units of the previous generation.

The is part of a national project called USQCD. Quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, is the theory that explains the properties and behavior of quarks and gluons. Scientists compute the particles’ subatomic interaction, the strong nuclear force, using algorithms and techniques known as lattice QCD. The USQCD collaboration develops the software and hardware needed to meet the high demands of lattice QCD calculations, which require tens of thousands of processors.

While industry would like to see increasingly powerful processors applied to cell phones, laptops and other consumer electronics, the USQCD collaboration aims to determine how important GPUs will be to scientific computing.

"We don't know if GPU-like chips are the way of the future or just a flash in the pan now," said Fermilab physicist Paul Mackenzie, spokesman for the national collaboration of QCD, in a recent interview. "The scientific computing world is changing. Computers 10 years from now will look very different from how they've looked the last 10 years."

Explore further: MIT physicist to describe strange world of quarks, gluons

Related Stories

Jefferson Lab cluster tops 100 teraflops

October 15, 2010

The fastest computer system in Hampton Roads has booted up with more than 100 Teraflops of processing power. Located at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, the cluster computer system ...

Hunting the unseen

July 15, 2011

A better knowledge about the composition of sub-atomic particles such as protons and neutrons has sparked conjecture about, as yet, unseen particles. A tool based on theoretical calculations that could aid the search for ...

New computer cluster gets its grunt from games

November 25, 2009

Technology designed to blast aliens in computer games is part of a new GPU (Graphics Processing Units) computer cluster that will process CSIRO research data thousands of times faster and more efficiently than a desktop PC.

Software tool helps tap into the power of graphics processing

May 17, 2010

Today's computers rely on powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) to create the spectacular graphics in video games. In fact, these GPUs are now more powerful than the traditional central processing units (CPUs) - or brains ...

Gravity-like theories give insight into the strong force

June 7, 2010

A new computation of the constant that describes the strength of the force between the quarks in a proton may help theorists tackle one of the most challenging problems of physics: analytically solving the theory of QCD and ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft teams with Bank of America on 'blockchain'

September 27, 2016

Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Tuesday announced they are working together to make financial transactions more efficient with blockchain technology—the foundation of bitcoin digital currency.

Hyperloop pushes dream of low-cost futuristic transport

September 23, 2016

Is it a plane, is it a train? No, say supporters of Hyperloop, a futuristic mode of transport floated by Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk that promises high-tech, high-speed and cheap travel over long distances.

First test of driverless minibus in Paris Saturday

September 24, 2016

The French capital's transport authority will on Saturday carry out its first test of a driverless minibus, in the hope that regular routes for the hi-tech vehicles will be up and running within two years.

0 comments

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.