Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Angus Tait building to house BlueFern supercomputer team

Canterbury’s revamped Angus Tait building to house its BlueFern supercomputer team

June 30, 2014

University of Canterbury’s distinctive Butterfly Building has been remediated and will be officially reopened later this week by Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams.

The building – to be renamed the Angus Tait building - was first opened in May 1966 and following the earthquakes will be the home of the University’s BlueFern supercomputer team. The BlueFern computer is one of the most powerful in New Zealand. The building will be officially reopened on Friday, July 4.

New cellphones possess four processors and most laptops or and desktops have two to four processors. Canterbury’s BlueFern supercomputer has 8192 processors to form a fast network. BlueFern director Professor Tim David says he and his research team have access to a super computer overseas which has 786,432 processors.

``This is the Blue Gene at the Argonne national labs in Chicago. It is number five in the world list of the fastest supercomputers. The Chinese have the number one spot. We also have access to one in Melbourne which has 65,536 processors.

``We could not have got access to these supercomputers without having a similar machine here. To gain access to these machines we have to show that we know what we are doing and that our software can handle all those many processors.

``We have received 2,000,000 core hours access to the Argonne supercomputer in Chicago. It means that we can run software on the supercomputer on say 100,000 processors for 20 hours. We are researching heart disease progression through computer modelling which could become a key tool in predicting, treating and preventing coronary heart disease.

``Heart attacks occur because the arteries that carry blood to the heart become narrower and narrower allowing less and less blood through until in the end they get blocked and the heart tissue is starved of oxygen.

``By computer modelling we connect millions of cells making up a part of a coronary artery. This research could help doctors understand why coronary arteries get blocked at certain positions in the arterial tree.’’

Professor David and his team have established an international reputation with the computer modelling of cell physiology and have collaborated with other researches overseas.

Professor David says BlueFern’s value was reflected in two outstanding academics Professor Mike Steel and Brendon Bradley using the supercomputer for their research.

Dr Bradley is the first New Zealander and the youngest researcher to receive the prestigious internationally-renowned Shamsher Prakash Foundation Research Award. Professor Steel is one of four principal investigators to win $695,000 for three-year research project, Terraces, Large Trees and Trait Evolution, funded by the US-based National Science Foundation.

BlueFern is difficult to compare with the specifications of the first IBM 1620 computer at Canterbury in 1962 which had a capacity of just 20,000 decimal digits and possessed the equivalent of 20 kilobytes of storage.

This was the first digital computer installed at a New Zealand university and the third installed anywhere in New Zealand, the first two going to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The IBM 1620 computer weighed 800 kilograms and was two metres high. It cost about as much as 10 average houses. It had no disks or tapes, all information being stored on punched cards and had no operating system. Word processing wasn't invented, nor were spreadsheets, email or the internet.

When it arrived only four members of the University staff had had any experience with using a computer. From 1967 to 1973 the University upgraded to a computer 60 times as powerful with an initial memory 64,000 bytes of memory, later upgraded to 128,000 bytes.

From 1973 until 1980, the University had a Burroughs computer that cost about a million dollars, or the cost at the time of up to an average 40 houses. Further changes and upgrades have continued over the last 34 years. Key IT people who have played important parts in growing digital technology at the university were Robin Harrington and Bruce Moon.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Royals: The Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall To Visit

Prime Minister John Key welcomes today’s announcement that the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit New Zealand in November. This will be the second joint visit for Their Royal Highnesses to New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Tracey Martin Replaced: Ron Mark Is New New Zealand First Deputy Leader

Clayton Mitchell was the successful candidate for the Associate Whip position. Winston Peters was re-elected as Leader by the Caucus. Ron Mark was elected as the Deputy Leader with effect from 10am, Friday, 3rd July. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild Rebrand: "Regenerate Christchurch" To Replace CERA

The regeneration of Christchurch will be the city’s focus for the next five years as local leadership progressively takes control of the rebuild, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says. More>>

ALSO:

Nauru: Scholars Urge Minister To Act On Deteriorating Democracy

“Since the 2013 election in Nauru, there has been a series of disturbing developments on the islands that indicate a severe deterioration in the state of its parliamentary democracy and in the rule of law,” say the scholars. More>>

ALSO:

Foreign Affairs: NZ Begins Presidency Of UN Security Council

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the start of New Zealand’s month-long Presidency of the United Nations Security Council in New York. More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cash For Charter Schools, Mould For State Schools

“Recently released financial statements show the Whangarei charter school He Puna Marama received $3.9 million in government funding to the end of last year. Yet their audited accounts show they only spent $1.4 million on education, leaving almost $2.5 million over two years unaccounted for." More>>

ALSO:

Kiwirail Plans Shift From Electric: National Urged Not To Take Backwards Step

The National Government shouldn’t drag New Zealand backwards by replacing its climate friendly electric trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Capital Connection:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news