HPE is pushing the final frontier, bringing its compute power to the search for the origins of space and time. The tech giant’s deep space exploration will not be undertaken alone, however, with HPE partnering with the University of Cambridge in two significant collaborations.
The first will see HPE work with the Faculty of Mathematics at the University to accelerate new discoveries in the mathematical sciences. The second tie-up will be with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, with HPE lending its Superdome Flex in-memory computing platform to Hawking’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (COSMOS).
Researchers in cosmology, astrophysics and particle physics at COSMOS will process massive data sets — spanning 14 billion years — using HPE’s in-memory computing platform to research answers to the conundrums of space and time.
Meg Whitman, who last week announced she will step down as President and CEO of HPE in February 2018, introduced Prof Hawking as the first Superdome Flex customer at HPE Discover 2017 Madrid on Tuesday.
“Our COSMOS group is working to understand how space and time work, from before the first trillion trillionth of a second after the Big Bang up to today,” said Professor Hawking, the Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research in Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.
“The recent discovery of gravitational waves offers amazing insights about black holes and the whole Universe. With exciting new data like this, we need flexible and powerful computer systems to keep ahead so we can test our theories and explore new concepts in fundamental physics.”
The latest supercomputer supporting the work of the faculty, which combines an HPE Superdome Flex with an HPE Apollo supercomputer and Intel Xeon Phi systems, will equip COSMOS to refine cosmological theory with combined data from the known universe, and from sources such as gravitational waves, the cosmic microwave background, and the existing maps of stars and galaxies. Better computational power helps the academics search for tiny signatures in massive data sets, which would not have been possible with human brainpower alone.
HPE Superdome Flex leverages the principles of Memory-Driven Computing, the architecture central to HPE’s vision for the future of computing, featuring a pool of memory accessed by compute resources over a high-speed data interconnect. The shared memory and single system design of HPE Superdome Flex enables researchers to solve complex, data-intensive problems holistically and reduces the burden on code developers.
Computational tools have proven indispensable in a range of research fields, including formation of extra-solar planetary systems, statistical linguistics and brain injuries. Professor Nigel Peake, Head of the Cambridge Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics said high performance computing (HPC) “has become the third pillar of research.”
Professor Paul Shellard, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and head of the COSMOS group, said the upcoming project is “in a fast-moving field” and presents “the twofold challenge of analysing larger data sets while matching their increasing precision with our theoretical models.”
“In-memory computing allows us to ingest all of this data and act on it immediately, trying out new ideas, new algorithms,” said Prof Shellard, “It accelerates time to solution and equips us with a powerful tool to probe the big questions about the origin of our Universe.”
“The influx of new data about the most extreme events in our Universe has led to dramatic progress in cosmology and relativity.”