MSI participated in the College of Science and Engineering’s Math and Science Family Fun Fair on Saturday, November 13th. More than 200 kids and their parents came to MSI’s booth at Coffman Union. The families were able to see first-hand how supercomputers are helping researchers at the University of Minnesota and beyond by getting to experiment with some computing equipment and view some of our 3-D visualizations. Pictures from the event are available.

MSI, and more specifically, our Itasca supercomputer, was recently featured on a television program called "The Global Learning Series.” In the video you will see former MSI Director Tom Jones, as well as University of Minnesota chemistry professor and MSI Fellow, Darrin York, talk about the development of computers over time, the importance of supercomputing at a research institution and how modern supercomputers work. The program will be used as interstitial programming on a network of 349 public television stations across the country.


In Summer 2010, MSI made available to its users its newest supercomputer, named Itasca, and Itasca is already making a world of difference to researchers at the university.

Charles Campbell, a University of Minnesota physics and astronomy professor uses MSI to study layered quantum magnets. He says of Itasca, "Our research has benefitted tremendously from being able to use Itasca. Some of our calculations are so intensive that they are simply impracticable without it.”

Brian Ropers-Huilman, Assistant Director for HPC Operations at MSI explains why Itasca has been so successful: "With four times as many cores and better memory bandwidth than anything we were able to offer before, the time it takes for us to earn a solution is considerably less. Time to solution is what our users care about most.”

Chris Cramer, a chemistry professor, couldn’t agree more about the benefits of Itasca: "Itasca added a stunning amount of capacity to MSI's already quite good facilities. As a result, our wait times for initiating jobs are negligible and our productivity has increased several-fold.”

In addition to providing increased productivity, Itasca is allowing users to test code in order to prepare for even more intensive work to be done at national supercomputing centers. Alexander Heger (associate professor of physics) and his graduate student Ken Chen are two of those users. Said Chen, "Itasca has helped us define what simulations we want to run at the National Energy Research Computing Center.”

In a short amount of time, Itasca has already helped the University of Minnesota in its goals to become a top research university. By allowing researchers to perform complex modeling and run intensive simulations more efficiently than ever before, the University of Minnesota is on the forefront of discovery. Campbell again, "Itasca is ideally suited to the nature of our work. Our results are now clearly setting the benchmarks in our field.”

Intel has recently released a case study about their Xeon processors and software-development products that spotlights MSI. The study discusses our two newest systems, Itasca and Koronis. Koronis will be available to users later this year.

MSI has recently been awarded an NIH grant to purchase a new SGI Altix UV 1000 supercomputer, which will be called "Koronis." This machine will be used by MSI researchers working on a number of NIH-funded projects in the areas of multi-scale modeling, chemical dynamics, bioinformatics and computational biology, and biomedical imaging. The Principal Investigator on the grant is Professor Darrin York (Chemistry, MSI Fellow). The research groups of professors Jiali Gao (Chemistry, MSI Fellow), Donald Truhlar (Chemistry, MSI Fellow), George Karypis (Computer Science and Engineering, MSI Associate Fellow), David Largaespada (Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development), Kelvin Lim (Psychiatry), and Bin He (Biomedical Engineering) will also be using Koronis. More information can be found at the SGI website.