Six Million Times Faster than a Speeding Smartphone

Six Million Times Faster than a Speeding Smartphone

Indiana’s supercomputer hardware portfolio is set to take a very big leap in the near future. Plans are in the works to add tremendous new processing capacity to our already-existing lineup of mind-boggingly powerful machines.

For example, near the start of the year, Indiana University made big news around then world when it acquired Big Red 200, which at the time was the fastest university-owned artificial intelligence supercomputer. The supercomputer is so fast, it would take “everyone in the state of Indiana more than 28 years — performing one calculation per second 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year — to perform the same number of calculations that Big Red 200 can do in just one second.”

To put that into more scientific context, Big Red 200 has a peak performance rate of 6 petaFLOPS. That’s about six million times faster than an iPhone XS.

New grant funding arrived this summer from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will establish two new supercomputers at major universities, encompassing 8 petaFLOPS and 5.3 petaFLOPS of power. That’s an incredibly huge amount of processing capacity that could have a major impact on all kinds of advanced research like new disease treatments, chemistry, and much more.

Two new $10 million grant awards arrived this summer for two of Indiana’s universities. Each is going to be used to add advanced supercomputers.



The NSF awarded Purdue University $10 million for the implementation of Anvil, a new supercomputer that will support a wide range of computational and data-intensive research spanning from traditional high-performance computing to modern artificial intelligence applications. This will be used to drive research in areas like fluid dynamics, bioinformatics, data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications.

Purdue’s system will be built in partnership with Dell and AMD and will deliver with a peak performance of 5.3 petaflops.

“High-performance computing is crucial to discovery in all domains today – solving problems in agriculture to sustainably feed the world; in life sciences to understand and cure disease; and in engineering to support our national competitiveness,” said Theresa Mayer, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships.

Anvil will also significantly increase the capacity available to the NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), which serves tens of thousands of researchers across the U.S. The supercomputer will enter production in 2021 and will serve researchers for five years.


Jetstream 2

supercomputerThe Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University was awarded a $10 million grant from the NSF to deploy Jetstream 2, a distributed cloud computing system to support on-demand research, artificial intelligence, and enhanced large-scale data analyses for the nation. The 8 petaFLOP system will provide virtual supercomputing power to researchers in a range of fields, including AI, social sciences, and even COVID-19 research.

One of IU’s objectives with the new supercomputer is to put its incredible power into new hands. Jetstream 2’s signature innovation is its ability to make high-performance computing and software easy to use by researchers who have limited experience with supercomputing systems. This is especially helpful for smaller academic communities with little previous access to such resources.

Over the years, the Jetstream system has given thousands of U.S. researchers access to a powerful cloud-based environment that complements other NSF systems, all from a laptop or iPad, allowing them to explore and understand immense amounts of data.

The project team also has a goal of serving more students than any other NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure resource, leading to a diverse pool of graduates entering the STEM workforce with robust training in computational science. Jetstream 2 builds on the classroom success of Jetstream, which was used in classes to teach computational biology and chemistry, and in student projects on AI approaches to biological field research, veterinary medicine, and textual analysis.

Jetstream 2’s primary system will be located at Indiana University, with four smaller regional systems deployed nationwide at partners Arizona State University, Cornell University, the University of Hawaii, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Additional Jetstream 2 partners include the University of Arizona, Johns Hopkins University, and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, with Dell Inc. as the primary supplier.

IU is expected to receive nearly $20 million in total from the NSF to create, implement and operate Jetstream 2 over five years.


Crucial to Discovery

Once Indiana has access to all the potential the new machines will bring, the state will be primed for discovery and innovation. It’ll be amazing to witness all the great things that Hoosier organizations develop as a result of this new hardware, and the new opportunities this will create for Indiana companies and communities. That, of course, will be a very good thing for business.

Category Features, IT & Tech