TACC debuts $30 million supercomputer

Savannah Schoffstall

UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center debuted its new $30 million supercomputer Friday, called Stampede2.

Stampede2 will help researchers manage and analyze large amounts of data with high-performing computing capabilities, according to a UT press release.

Stampede2 will be the most powerful computer in the country at an academic institution and will be twice as fast as the previous supercomputer, as well as be more energy efficient, said Aaron Dubrow, TACC’s strategic communications specialist.

“It will allow tens of thousands of researchers to do their work,” Dubrow said. “Among those tens of thousand are hundreds that study cancer.”

The computer, awarded by the National Science Foundation, will also “be among the first systems to employ cutting-edge computer processor, memory, networking and storage technology,” according to a TACC press release.

Karen Vasquez is one of the many researchers at UT who work with the supercomputers. Vasquez and her team use them to study structures that form at hotspots for mutations in cancer.

The computers manage large amounts of data in one week that would otherwise take years, Vasquez said.

“We had to search 12 different structures, algorithms, on 40,000 cancer genomes many, many times,” Vasquez said. “We couldn’t have done it (without Stampede2)."

The supercomputers are remotely logged into by users for them to do the same managing and analyzation of data as if the user was at the center, said TACC research associate William Joe Allen.

“We maintain the computers and sort of help the users if they need some software installed or if they have questions about how to run certain things or they want to do things more efficiently,” Allen said. “That’s our area of expertise.”

TACC, one of the largest and well-equipped supercomputing systems in the country, works with medical researchers, like Vasquez, from all over.

“We provide the resources for anyone in UT system and actually all across the country,” Allen said. “We have users coming in from all 50 states and many different countries and basically every major research institution in Texas.”