NUST Supercomputer Catapults Pakistan to Top 200 Supercomputing Sites in the World

NUST's new 132 Teraflop supercomputer has catapulted the Pakistani university's supercomputing center to the elite Top 200 list of supercomputing sites in the world, a list dominated by a handful of industrialized nations. National University of Science & Technology's supercomputer is named ScREC after its supercomputing research and education center. The cluster consists of 66 nodes equipped with a total of 30,992 cores. The NUST site breaks down the components as follows: 32 dual-socket quad-core nodes, 32 NVIDIA GPUs, a QDR InfiniBand interconnect, and 26.1 TB of storage.

ScREC will be be deployed for research in the areas of computational biology, fluid dynamics, image processing, cryptography, medical imaging, geosciences, finance, and climate modeling. Specifically, RCMS is currently developing a direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method for subsonic nanoscale gas flows. Other projects include external flow analysis of heavy vehicles to reduce fuel consumption, and numerical investigation on performance and stability of axial compressors used in aircraft engines and gas turbines.

In his recent book Turing's Cathedral, computer historian George Dyson explores how the digital universe has exploded in the aftermath of World War II. The proliferation of both codes and machines has paralleled two historic developments: the decoding of self-replicating sequences in biology and the development of the hydrogen bomb, with the most destructive and the most constructive of human endeavors occurring at the same time.

In the decades after World War II, computers have become an absolutely essential tool for research in a variety of fields ranging from weapons to weather and life sciences.

In particular, the distinction between computing and biology has begun to blur in a way that will have enormous benefits for human health, productivity and longevity. Pakistan is among a handful of nations where there is significant research underway in genomics and biotechnology which requires substantial computing power.

Researchers at the Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) in Karachi collaborated with Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) to complete gene mapping of Dr. Ata-ur-Rahman, according to SciDev. Dr. Rehman, President of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, volunteered himself for the project.

Pakistan has significant research efforts in seed and livestock development at various agriculture universities, institutes and departments. Pakistani researchers and scientists are currently collaborating in life sciences with their counterparts in the US and China. A number of crops like cotton, rice, wheat, corn, potato, ground nut are being developed locally or with the collaboration of Chinese and US seed companies.

Currently, there are over two hundred life sciences departments which are engaged in genomics and biotechnology research at various Pakistani universities, and they all can benefit from access to modern high-speed supercomputing.

Pakistan has been a Science Watch rising star for several years for research papers in multiple fields, particularly in biological sciences. Publications by Pakistani research teams have increased four-folds in the last decade, and the majority of publications from major universities are in life sciences.

Let's hope that there will be many more high-speed supercomputing sites established at various universities and research institutes to meet the growing demand for computing power by Pakistani researchers.

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