Researchers celebrate latest supercomputer

Yvonne Marquez

The Lonestar 4 supercomputer was dedicated at a ceremony at the Pickle Research Campus
on Monday.

Multiple technology partners, including the National Science Foundation and Dell, commissioned $12 million to Texas Advanced Computing Center to acquire the supercomputer.

Research associate Karl Schulz, who worked on the last three Lonestars, said supercomputers must have fast central processing units. The Lonestar 4 works on 22,656 cores, which is 5,000-10,000 more processing power than an average laptop. The network capability of the computer is 500 times more powerful than a typical wireless network and uses eight miles of cable.

Through the TeraGrid, an infrastructure that links scientific institutions, researchers from around the world can connect to the supercomputer to compute information or retrieve specific data.
President William Powers Jr. said the supercomputer is critical to the University’s competitiveness in the 21st century. He said it is also a key ingredient to collaboration, especially within
Texas institutions.

“Computing is the fuel that powers vast areas of research across the country and certainly research at the University of Texas,” Powers said. “It lets us tease out patterns and find order which, to the naked eye, would just be chaos. It helps us makes sense of the world we live in.”

Michael Dell said he was at an event in China and was surprised to find the chief information officer for the Chinese power grid relied on Dell’s servers.

“We don’t get to solve the problems, but we get to provide the tools that solve the world’s most interesting problems,” Dell said.

Center researcher Chris Jordan said the supercomputer’s resources are a way to bring in more researchers from a wider range of disciplines.

“You think of it being a geeky thing, but we want to involve more people from social sciences and economics, in addition to astronomy and physics,” Jordan said.