TribLIVE

| Business

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pittsburgh's newest supercomputer tackles tough questions

Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review - Westinghouse Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Program Manager Lynn Layman stands in front of Sherlock, the center’s newest supercomputer.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Westinghouse Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Program Manager Lynn Layman stands in front of Sherlock, the center’s newest supercomputer.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review - Westinghouse Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Program Manager Lynn Layman is reflected in part of Sherlock, the center’s newest supercomputer.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Jasmine Goldband  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Westinghouse Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Program Manager Lynn Layman is reflected in part of Sherlock, the center’s newest supercomputer.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Related .pdfs
Can't view the attachment? Then download the latest version of the free, Adobe Acrobat reader here:

Get Adobe Reader

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Pittsburgh's newest supercomputer is anything but elementary.

Dubbed Sherlock, it is capable of holding the data equivalent of every human heartbeat on Earth every 2.4 minutes or a graph of approximately 10 billion edges, officials at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center said Friday as they showed the device.

Its 1 terabyte of shared memory is equal to 1,000 iPads. That can be expanded as more users come on board to as much as 512 terabytes.

“This is already an extremely big sandbox,” said Nick Nystrom, director of strategic applications at the Supercomputing Center. “When they outgrow it, we'll build them a bigger one.” PSC is looking for users.

Sherlock was designed with lots of memory and the capacity for more for a specific purpose — to process large data sets and not necessarily for speed, although it's still a supercomputer.

Another supercomputer at the center, called Blacklight, which began operating in 2010, is much faster, capable of performing 37 trillion calculations per second, officials said.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is home to the world's fastest supercomputer, experts said. The Titan system there performed 17.59 quadrillion calculations per second.

Sherlock was designed to find relationships or patterns in large and complex bodies of information. It is the 14th supercomputer in the center's 27-year history, said Ralph Roskies, scientific director. It joins with computers like Mario, Big Ben and Blacklight, which are capable of performing billions of calculations per second.

Funded through the Strategic Technologies for Cyber­infrastructure program of the National Science Foundation, with a grant of more than $1 million, Sherlock could be used in assessing cyber security risks, detecting money laundering, operational risk in financial services, fraud detection, even baseball analytics, said Arvind Parthasarathi, president of YarcData, which built the uRiKA supercomputer that was enhanced by Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center technicians.

“Sherlock gives PSC the first system available to researchers that is optimized for a particularly difficult family of questions ... security, medicine, public health and social dynamics,” said Nystrom. “These problems cost individuals and society in time, money and human suffering. Sherlock also helps keep Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania at the forefront of high performance computing.”

Researchers like Bin Zhang, of the Fox School of Business at Temple University, said Sherlock has the potential to expand his research into clustering in social networks.

“With the help of Sherlock, I can finally observe the true size of social groups in real-world networks of millions to even a billion people,” he said.

Established in 1986, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Westinghouse Electric Co. From July 2011 through June 2012, the center provided more than 7.8 million processor hours to 917 Pennsylvania researchers from 40 institutions.

PSC has attracted more than $500 million from investment resources outside the state since its founding, Roskies said.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Consol Energy, Range Resources report 2Q losses, plan deeper cuts
  2. U.S. Steel joins major producers in new dumping complaint
  3. Plummeting natural gas prices slash revenue of Marcellus shale producers
  4. Ambridge’s PittMoss takes off with help from TV show, Mt. Lebanon native Cuban
  5. Muni bond funds stressed
  6. Leisure, hospitality lead Pittsburgh area job gains
  7. Bayer sets sights beyond aspirin
  8. U.S. Steel to debut oil, gas pipeline connector
  9. Israel’s Teva drops bid for Mylan, buys Allergan for $40.5B
  10. Alcoa among 13 firms in $140B carbon-footprint pledge
  11. Wabtec moves to buy France-based transport company