universities, government and Fujitsu, is
using the power of supercomputers to study
macroeconomic models to better understand financial trends and avoid dramatic
events such as the economic crisis of 2007.
A recent case study notes that “economic
models did a poor job of predicting the
crisis and the resulting global recession.”
A growing number of companies are
leveraging the power of HPC to develop
new drug therapies and improve the delivery
of health care through personalized medicine, according to a report by the Council
on Competitiveness. One such company
is GNS, a privately held biotechnology
company based in Cambridge, MA. GNS is
applying supercomputing to breakthroughs
in genomics to develop new drugs.
Created to leverage the data made
available by the Human Genome Project,
GNS uses supercomputers “to create models
of human disease progression and drug
responses,” says the council in a report
entitled “Bringing the Power of to Drug
Discovery and the Delivery of ‘Smarter’
“In our world, it’s true that HPC has made
GNS and our partners more competitive and
profitable,” said Colin Hill, CEO and presi-
dent of GNS, in the council case study. “And
yes, it certainly has sped up our projects and
dramatically cut the amount of time it takes
to get answers. But, I think one of the biggest
benefits of HPC is that, inevitably, when
scientists have more and more computing
power in their hands, they ask bigger ques-
tions and tackle more ambitious projects.”
In addition, in collaboration with universities and national labs, companies such
as IBM are developing increasingly sophisticated models of the human body with all
its complex systems — advances that bring
“personalized medicine” closer to reality.
Supercomputing also is being employed
for public safety and emergency response.
The Renaissance Computing Institute
(RENCI) at the University of North Caro-
lina in Chapel Hill is using supercomputers
to provide advance warning of storm surges.
Public officials and emergency responders
use the resulting forecasts to help make
evacuation decisions, deploy emergency
services and position supplies.
Detailed and advanced warning of the
storms that periodically batter the North
Carolina coast has the potential to save billions in damage to homes, businesses and
tourist facilities. RENCI’s modeling work
is based on the same software used by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to update coastal floodplain maps.
BUILDING A BET TER FUTURE
Through the Department of Energy, the
federal government has created innovation clusters and hubs that bring together
universities, national labs and industry to
build more energy-efficient communities.
One such project is the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster. Supercomputer
models are playing a key role in the design
of more energy-efficient buildings.
Led by Penn State University, the cluster
established in Philadelphia’s Naval Yard
serves as a national center for energy efficient building research, education, policy
and commercialization. One of the goals of
the research is to develop integrated end-to-end code for simulating building fluid/
The potential impact of this research is
significant. The building sector consumes
about 40 percent of the energy used in the
United States and is responsible for nearly
40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. A
50-percent reduction in buildings’ energy
usage would be equivalent to taking every
passenger vehicle and small truck in the
United States off the road.
As the world enters a period of extreme
urbanization, city infrastructures will have
to accommodate much larger numbers of
people. MIT’s Media Lab estimates that, if
current trends hold in China, 300 million
rural inhabitants will move to cities, requiring the construction of an infrastructure
equivalent to the one housing the entire
population of the United States.
MIT has launched a City Science Initiative, which seeks partners from industry
and government to address the need to
update obsolete planning methodologies
and develop data-driven urban design
approaches to reduce traffic congestion and
carbon emissions and to improve livability.
HPC will certainly play a key role in the
development of these new approaches.
As the largest annual gathering of the
HPC community, SC14 will offer a window
to the future, as well as highlight how HPC
science and technology are being applied in
diverse domains. Through the HPC Impact
Showcase, the supercomputing community
aims to underscore just how far-reaching
the influence of HPC has become.
“We don’t expect HPC to become the hot
topic of dinnertime conversation anytime
soon,” says Damkroger, a deputy director
for Computation at Lawrence Livermore.
“However, as the benefits of supercomputing
become more evident, we do expect growing
recognition that HPC Matters to our quality
of life, economic well-being and security.”
Don Johnston is a member of the SC14
Communications Committee and Press
Officer at Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory. He may be reached at
Track map of Hurricane Sandy of the 2012
Atlantic hurricane season.