Newsletter Fa l l 2 0 1 3
High Performance Computing Used to Model Big Data By Rebecca Mirsky
Weather forecasters try to predict it. High-tech clothing is designed to resist it. Energy companies hope to harness it. And Inanc Senocak and his students are using computational science and high-end computer systems to model it. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” Gollum tries to stump Bilbo Baggins with a riddle: Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters, Toothless bites,
“Wind, wind of course,” Bilbo answers. The science of modeling and forecasting wind for energy resources is incredibly complex. It requires massive data sets and powerful, high performance computing capability. Accurate wind models are critical for evaluating wind farm siting and layout for optimum power production. Models have to account for the effects of terrain, temperature and atmospheric conditions, and be able to predict speed, direction and turbulence. A model with this level of complexity requires the science of computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
Senocak is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. He recently presented the ongoing research in his laboratory at the International Conference on Future Technologies for Wind Energy, held Oct. 7-9 in Laramie, Wyo. The title of his presentation was “Microscale Wind Simulations over Arbitrarily Complex Terrain using Cartesian Methods and GPUs.”
Mechanical engineering graduate student Clancy Umphrey also attended the conference in Laramie, along with his labmates Rey DeLeon — a Ph.D. student and recipient of University of Idaho’s President’s Doctoral Scholars award — and mechanical engineering senior Luke Weaver.
Last summer, Umphrey was accepted to the EarthCube Summer Institute 2013 at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at University of California, San Diego. He also is a recent recipient of the Idaho NASA EPSCoR Graduate Fellowship.
The EarthCube Summer Institute is designed primarily for geoscience researchers engaged in computational and data science, including graduate students, postdocs, faculty and research staff.
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Researchers Building a Computer Chip Based on the Human Brain By Kathleen Tuck
Today’s computing chips are incredibly complex and contain billions of nano-scale transistors, allowing for fast, high-performance computers, pocketsized smartphones that far outpace early desktop computers, and an explosion in handheld tablets.
Despite their ability to perform thousands of tasks in the blink of an eye, none of these devices even come close to rivaling the computing capabilities of the human brain. At least not yet. But a Boise State University research team could soon change that.
Electrical and computer engineering faculty Elisa Barney Smith, Kris Campbell and Vishal Saxena are joining forces on a project titled “CIF: Small: Realizing Chip-scale Bio-inspired Spiking Neural Networks with Monolithically Integrated Nano-scale Memristors.”
Team members are experts in machine learning (artificial intelligence), integrated circuit design and memristor devices. Funded by a three-year,
$500,000 National Science Foundation grant, they have taken on the challenge of developing a new kind of computing architecture that works more like a brain than a traditional digital computer.
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