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Silicon Mechanics Awards 2014 Research Cluster Grant to Wayne State University

Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 06, 2014
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High-performance cluster to aid with cutting edge collaborative research.

Silicon Mechanics, Inc. has announced that Wayne State University (WSU) is the recipient of the company’s 3rd Annual Research Cluster Grant, a program in which the company and its partners are donating a complete high-performance compute cluster.

The university, located in midtown Detroit, is one of the nation’s 50 largest public universities, with annual research expenditures of nearly $260 million, and among only 3.5 percent of U.S. universities with the Carnegie Foundation’s highest research classification. The addition of the Silicon Mechanics cluster to the WSU facility is expected to provide a powerful and flexible new research tool.

As a significant update to WSU’s current computing grid, the cluster will be shared by a variety of the most computation-intensive research groups on campus. The grant application was submitted jointly by two interdisciplinary collaborative research teams, and includes both computer scientists and domain scientists focusing on chemistry, mathematics, physics, and biology, along with cancer and biomedical research.

Examples of the types of projects to be worked on include developing new experimental tools used to understand grain growth dynamics, crucial to the control of hardness and strength of a wide range of engineering materials.

Another project is improving Monte Carlo molecular simulations, which are used to investigate why certain molecular systems exhibit certain characteristics as well as evaluate novel molecular solutions.

Graduate and undergraduate students will use the new HPC cluster in research projects, and the cluster will also be part of new courses to be offered on computing with Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). The high-end system is expected to prove useful for students testing their code, allowing them to observe the maximum benefits of GPU programming.

In addition, the cluster will also be used for education and demonstration of the technology at a variety of events promoting STEM education, which will in turn popularize the HPC concept among students and the thriving high-tech business in Detroit.

Wayne State’s Vice President for Research, Hilary Ratner, Ph.D., said, “We are thrilled to be a recipient of Silicon Mechanics' generous grant program. Our research faculty are pushing the boundaries of discovery, and this high performance computing equipment will help accelerate innovative work across our campus."

According to Art Mann, Silicon Mechanics’ education, research, and government vertical group manager, WSU stood out in the field of applicants, based on the high level of collaboration across departments, the clear and convincing description of the need for the cluster, as well as specific applications that would use the processors, graphic processing units and Phi co-processors, and the extremely high level of benefit and positive impacts to faculty, students, and the greater Detroit community.

The HPC cluster includes hardware and software donated by Intel, NVIDIA, HGST, Mellanox Technologies, Supermicro, Seagate, Kingston Technology, Bright Computing, and LSI Logic. This year’s HPC cluster contains eight compute nodes, one head node, Intel® Xeon Phi™ coprocessors, NVIDIA® Tesla® GPUs, and InfiniBand and gigabit Ethernet networking.

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