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 ]

‘Shaheen II’ System Enables World’s First Trillion-Cell Simulation

Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, has set a record for oil and gas reservoir simulations. The achievement was made possible by “Shaheen II,” a Cray® XC40TM system at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia. “The ‘trillion cell’ designation refers to how dense and high-resolution the imagery is,” explains Saber Feki, KAUST computational scientist lead, in a KAUST report on the breakthrough. “Think of it this way: We all carry megapixel cameras in our pockets. The Saudi Aramco team just simulated subsurface images with six orders of magnitude higher resolution on our machine. It’s research that will yield much more reliable information for oil exploration and ... [ Read More ]

Machine Learning at Scale for Full Waveform Inversion at PGS

Seismic exploration and imaging in the ultra-deep Gulf of Mexico is incredibly challenging: The hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary rocks are deep and buried under evaporite salt domes and geological layers that come in complex shapes and feature strong acoustic impedance and velocity contrasts. Proper imaging requires application of advanced velocity model-building techniques to address not only velocity variations, but also seismic velocity anisotropy. Then wave propagation must be performed with numerical schemes that accurately model reflections, refractions and even converted waves. While such features are known (and advanced) textbook examples of wave propagation in complex media, computing them requires massive supercomputer resources ... [ Read More ]

Remote Visualization Supports the Global Workforce: Let’s Move Pixels Rather Than Data

Do you have larger and larger datasets, widely dispersed users, ever-shrinking IT support? If your answer to any of these is yes, have you tried remote visualization? Remote visualization moves pixels, not data, leaving the data safely in the datacenter; frees up network bandwidth; and typically improves performance with the application and the data co-located. HPC users want much more from the jobs they run: printouts from simulations, tests and analyses are no longer satisfying. Users want to see visual representations, and until recently "“fat” workstations on their desktops were the only option. Today, the most common approach is to provide CPU/GPU power when the user wants it — but as dataset size increases, there can be delays ... [ Read More ]

Expanding the Envelope for LS-DYNA Blade Off Simulations

When a fan or compressor blade fails in an airplane jet engine, it’s a potentially deadly event. Failed blades release high-energy fragments that can perforate the engine case, damage fuel tanks and cause catastrophic failures. Because of this extreme danger, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that engine cases be capable of containing blade fragments. In turn, it makes “fan blade off containment” a critical design requirement for the aerospace industry. Of course, improving fan blade off containment simulation also makes for a compute challenge for users of Cray® XC™ supercomputer and the finite element application LS-DYNA®. So a team from Cray and Livermore Software Technology Corporation (LSTC) got together recently to study ... [ Read More ]