While football fans are anxiously awaiting the Super Bowl, researchers at Iowa State University are talking about their new supercomputer. The one-and-a-quarter million dollar computer is ranked as the 73rd most powerful among the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers. Iowa State computer engineering professor Srinivas Aluru says the computer will be used for genetic research. He says they’ll work on cutting-edge problems in plant sciences, genetics and computational biology. Aluru says he expects the supercomputer to be used for lots of research between departments and says it should help foster that research.
The National Science Foundation gave I-S-U 600-thousand dollars to purchase the computer, and the university provided the rest of the money. While it’s a super computer, Aluru says it’s a fairly compact device for what it does. He says it’s a single rack about the size of a refrigerator and has the supercomputer has the computing power of over two-thousand desktop computers and can perform five-point-seven trillion calculations in one second.
Former I-S-U professor John Atanasoff is credited with created the first ever working computer back in 1942. While this new supercomputer is one of the fastest in the world, Aluru says there is still a link to the very first model in the way the computer operates. He says it basically is doing multiple equations using multiple variables and solves the equations. Aluru says that’s still the way computers are ranked today — by the number of equations they can solve — the same problem Atanasoff sought to solve with his computer.
Aluru estimates that Iowa State’s supercomputer will be more than ten times more powerful than any high-performance computer currently on campus.