November 3, 2013

New supercomputer to make its debut at UNH

The Associated Press

DURHAM, N.H. — The University of New Hampshire’s new supercomputer is making its debut.

The supercomputer, dubbed “Trillian” after a character in the comic science fiction series, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” is being introduced in a ceremony Monday at the school’s Morse Hall.

The computer is housed at the school’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space and will enable leading-edge research in multiple facets of modern physics. It was made possible by an award of nearly $535,000 from the National Science Foundation.

The Cray XE6m supercomputer is roughly 1,000 times more powerful than a typical desktop computer.

Trillian replaces the older Zaphod, which is now retired after eight years of operation. While Zaphod has enabled numerous studies and some breakthroughs in computational physics, the new system will be at least 15 times faster and more powerful.

“With Trillian, we can do bigger, more accurate simulations faster,” says Space Science Center astrophysicist Joachim “Jimmy” Raeder, lead UNH scientist on the MRI grant. “And one basic advantage of having a supercomputer here is the quick turnaround — we don’t have to buy time on a remote supercomputer or move data, we can store it locally and efficiently.”

The computer will be used to study such subjects as solar wind and its properties, turbulence in fluids and plasmas, and space weather.

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