Arctic Region Supercomputing Center Installs CRAY T3E System

FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- The Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) installed a new high-performance computing system on February 26, 1997. According to ARSC Director, Frank Williams, "The CRAY T3E system enables ARSC to provide scientists and engineers with more powerful computing resources. Some of the world's foremost faculty and students are discovering new arctic region knowledge in geophysics, marine sciences, natural sciences, and engineering using ARSC facilities."

The new system is a CRAY T3E massively parallel processing (MPP) computer from Cray Research, the supercomputing subsidiary of Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI). The system consists of 88 processors, each with 128 Mbytes of memory, or double the per-processor memory of the older CRAY T3D system. Improved architecture of the CRAY T3E supercomputer makes it three-to-four times faster than the CRAY T3D system. The Center's operation of the CRAY T3D system will be phased out over the next few months.

The new CRAY T3E supercomputer, named Yukon after Alaska's largest river, will support the research and development efforts of scientists from the academic community, federal research agencies, the state of Alaska, private enterprise, and the Department of Defense. Over the next month, researchers from sciences such as geophysics and astrophysics will move their computing activities over to the new CRAY T3E system. For example, the increased memory and speed permit enhanced modeling of the polar oceans and ice cover to include input from the various continental rivers. Currently, scientists are unable to follow the flow from each river once it enters the ocean. Greater computing capabilities will allow 'tracing' of each river's flow after entering the ocean providing increased information on the contribution of each river and the possible environmental impacts.

Another CRAY T3E-related project teams ARSC with the UAF Geophysical Institute , the Alaska Volcano Observatory , and the State of Alaska Seismology Office to develop a parallel version of a 3D seismic modeling code. Information gathered from existing seismic surveys and naturally occurring events are used to construct a high-resolution numerical model of the geological structure of the mountain range and surrounding areas. This model will predict the results of possible earthquake events throughout Alaska. The CRAY T3E system, combined with ARSC's sophisticated Silicon Graphics visualization resources, make ARSC an important asset to scientists seeking to perform such high-end, detailed simulations.

ARSC continues to operate an eight-processor CRAY Y-MP large memory vector supercomputer with 8GB (1 GigaWord) of globally addressable memory. This machine, named Denali , has been in operation since January 1993, and serves the same user community as the CRAY T3E system. The CRAY Y-MP supercomputer remains a workhorse for scientists and engineers.

In addition, connected to these CRAY supercomputers, via local ethernet, FDDI, and HiPPI networks, will be a new SGI Onyx-2 Infinite Reality visualization supercomputer, an SGI high performance Onyx XL, and over 40 additional SGI workstations located in ARSC labs across the UAF campus.

The three visualization labs, the ARSC Video Production Lab, and the ARSC Training Lab are undergoing significant hardware improvements in 1997 to keep pace with user needs and advanced technology. An integrated digital video/audio recording studio will be built around the SGI Onyx-2's high-end video output, upgrading essential multimedia capabilities of ARSC.

In operation since 1992, ARSC continues to support computational research, science, and engineering--with emphasis on the high latitudes and the Arctic. ARSC provides scalar-vector and massively parallel processing (MPP) talent and related resources--high-performance computing, networking facilities, training, and technical support--to federal and state agencies, the academic community, and commercial affiliates.

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