The UK's national parallel supercomputer, HECToR, is located at the University of Edinburgh and operated by EPCC, one of the four Institutes that make up the School of Physics and Astronomy. It has more than 10,000 processor-cores, terabytes of memory, a dedicated support team to keep it healthy, and eats megawatts of electricity. But who uses it, and why? And how do they harness the power of such a huge machine?
Machines like HECToR are predominantly used by physicists, chemists and biologists to perform calculations that are simply not feasible on desktop machines. In this talk I will describe how computer simulations are done on parallel supercomputers like HECToR, and the challenges presented by the sheer scale of today's machines. I will also cover how the programming techniques developed for the world's largest computers are now becoming applicable to everyday users: today's desktops, laptops and games machines all contain multiple processing cores, and parallel programming is the only way to exploit their full potential.
Our General Interest Seminars are an opportunity for distinguished speakers to present new research in physics and related areas. The material presented is suitable for undergraduate level upwards and all members of the School are welcome to attend..