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Supercomputer technologies in science, …

Supercomputer technologies in science, education and industry

Feb 17 2010

Recently some respectable organizations, such as MSU, RAS and HPC Association of Russian Universities, have published the book "Supercomputer technologies in science, education and industry". The book was published under the editorship of academicians V.A. Sadovnichiy and G.I. Savin and RAS corresponding member Vl.V. Voevodin, i.e. also very respectable sirs. The book is devoted to the ways of practical use of those technologies which are usually associated with something "cosmic". But nowadays supercomputer technologies are not merely a scientific sphere - people begin to use them to solve applied tasks related to designing and manufacturing. I will cite several examples of applying supercomputers to real life from this book.


First, here is a graph from the site top500.org that shows what tasks are solved in the world with the help of supercomputers.


Well, rather diverse tasks these are. And what scopes from this list are relevant to Russia? Let us look through the book's sections.

Supercomputer technologies in medicine


Search of inhibitor molecules for target proteins is the initial step of developing a new medicine. One may significantly reduce time and money costs at the step of searching for inhibitors with the help of supercomputer technologies and computer molecular modeling methods. It allows you to predict new organic molecules that will most efficiently and selectively bind with the active centers of the proteins under investigation. Development of a new non-infringing synthetic inhibitor thrombin was discussed in a cooperative work by MSU and RAMS Hematology scientific center, and the approach itself was further developed while searching for ways to create some other medicines.

Using supercomputers in machinery construction

Public Corporation Scientific-Manufacturing Association "Saturn" is a leading engine-building company in Russia specializing in developing and manufacturing gas-turbine engines for military and civil aviation, navy, energy-generating and gas-transfer systems. The company actively exploits supercomputers in aircraft engine designing.


Another interesting example is the topic "Optimization of an iron wheel profile". At first, this phrase may seem insignificant but it hides a serious practical meaning. Public Corporation "Russian Railways" possesses about 20 thousand locomotives and more than 600 thousand freight cars and coaches. Reducing wear of rail-wheels and rails by several per cents may result in a great saving rate, while increase of a car motion-stability will lead to a greater safety and increased average speed. The purpose of optimization is evident but how does it deal with HPC?

If search of the optimum is performed using the exhaustive search on a grid with required accuracy, we will get the following thing. If we take ten variants of values of each of the parameters we will have to perform 10^11 calculations that will take 10^12 seconds, i.e. 3 years of continuous calculation on a supercomputer with 10000 processors. Thus, the complexity of the task does not only demand supercomputer calculations but implies necessarily supplying them with efficient numerical methods to get the result in reasonable time.


Oil, gas and supercomputers

Work efficiency in the oil-and-gas sphere is directly related to the use of powerful supercomputers to solve large-scale calculation tasks providing a high quality of oil and gas fields search and exploration, increased producing ability of existing wells and reduction of ecological damage when developing oil-fields.


Other sections of the book

Besides all said above, the book discusses examples of using supercomputers in many other scopes:

  • climate, atmosphere analysis;
  • city flood-defense systems;
  • gas detonation, pressure distribution;
  • etc.

Still the authors cannot do without "scholastic" examples of using high tech :). For example, a new "strategic-purpose supercomputer" "Angara" is to be developed in Russia. It must become "the best" among all the other computer systems. But at present, the model of the supercomputer "Angara" is being designed on another computer. In other words, they made an emulator.

Where can one read this book?

The purpose of my post was not to retell the book but to make people interested so that everyone could read it and learn about various ways of using supercomputers in Russia. An electronic version of book is available here [RU] (on Russian)!

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