Behind the Name of the First University-Installed Shasta System

Cray Shasta supercomputer

Every Cray customer has a story. They tell those stories through the discoveries they make and knowledge they advance.

But many of them also tell their stories through art.

Cray customers the world over personalize their supercomputers with artwork — from photography to original paintings. And every design says something unique about the organization — from their history to their mission.

Here at Cray, we love to spotlight the stories our customers tell through system art. And our first entry for the year comes from Indiana University.

Last month, IU inaugurated Big Red 200, a new AI-focused Cray Shasta supercomputer that joins the ranks of the fastest academic supercomputers in the world. In fact, the unveiling was one of many celebrations of the university’s bicentennial on January 20.

As the bicentennial marks a new chapter in IU’s historical journey, the university sees Big Red 200 as a new chapter in their scientific journey. The system will power advanced artificial intelligence applications as well as support the university’s interest in advancing medical research.

For the system art, IU drew inspiration from the university community’s relationship with the supercomputers. Over 300 disciplines benefit from the university’s HPC resources. With this broad reach in mind, they created a design that represents each one.

Brad Wheeler, IU’s vice president for information technology and CIO, describes the system with the following statement:

“Big Red 200 tells the story of a journey of communication to intelligence. The visual journey starts with telegraph communications and transitions to the 1s and 0s of binary code. The binary code transitions into what can be called the connectionist network, symbolizing artificial intelligence. Behind the “journey” are the 303 disciplines that will be supported by Big Red 200.”

Big Red 200 is the first university installation of a Shasta system and 300 times faster than the university’s original Big Red supercomputer.

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