Cray “Blue Waters” Supercomputer Tackles Gerrymandering

Yan Liu and Wendy K. Tam Cho

Redistricting — the process by which congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn — sounds like an unremarkable government chore. And, in theory, it should be. But, too often, it is subject to “gerrymandering,” or manipulation, by the majority political party. Decades ago, University of Illinois political science professor Wendy K. Tam Cho (pictured above) realized that what’s needed is a computational tool that would help the courts objectively measure the fairness of a legislative map. She developed a tool that could generate hundreds of millions of voter district maps that would serve as a “comparison set” — a way to measure the level of partisanship exhibited by any particular electoral map. But any further work ... [ Read More ]

Inventions at Cray: Solving the Hard Problems

In the U.S., Feb. 11 is National Inventor’s Day, timed to coincide with the birthday of Thomas Edison. That’s reason enough to celebrate the inventors among us. The phrase “computer vector register processing” may not sound very inspiring, but that’s what Seymour Cray’s patent for the supercomputer, issued in 1976, was called. Forty years later, his invention still inspires scientists and engineers to change the world. Cray continues to nurture the spirit of invention both internally and among its customers and partners. For his part, Seymour Cray obtained numerous patents throughout his career, but it was U.S. Patent No. 4,128,880 (“Computer vector register processing”) that got him inducted into the National Inventors Hall ... [ Read More ]

“Titan” Supercomputer Helps Scientists Analyze the Atoms in a Nanoparticle

Scientists used one of the world’s most powerful electron microscopes to map the precise location and chemical type of 23,000 atoms in an extremely small particle made of iron and platinum. The Cray supercomputer “Titan” was then used to simulate the nanoparticle’s behavior. The 3-D reconstruction reveals the arrangement of atoms in unprecedented detail. Insights gained from the particle’s structure could lead to new ways to improve its magnetic performance for use in high-density, next-generation hard drives. What’s more, the technique used to create the reconstruction, atomic electron tomography (which is like an incredibly high-resolution CT scan), lays the foundation for precisely mapping the atomic composition of other useful ... [ Read More ]

Behind the Name: “SahasraT,” India’s Fastest Supercomputer

“SahasraT” holds a special place in Indian supercomputing: It is the country’s first petaflops supercomputer. The Cray® XC40™ system is housed at the Supercomputing Education and Research Center (SERC) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, India. The 1.4 PF system serves scientific and engineering researchers at India’s leading computing center. The SERC leads several national initiatives on HPC, and is actively involved in research projects and consultancy in collaboration with government agencies and private companies. SahasraT serves as the primary system for cutting-edge research in science and engineering at the IISc. The fact that this system is India’s first petascale supercomputer played a role in its naming. ... [ Read More ]

2017 Supercomputing Forecast: “Partly Cloudy”

Can cloud and supercomputing provide solutions better together than separately? That’s one question Barry Bolding, Cray’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer, addresses in an article on In the article, “4 Predictions for Supercomputing in 2017,” Bolding gives his predictions related to: Artificial intelligence and machine learning China’s strategic and rapidly growing role in the supercomputing market The incessant demands on processor technology A “paradigm shift” in thinking about the intersection of cloud and platform What do you think 2017 holds for the supercomputing industry? ... [ Read More ]