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GPU’s and Particle Accelerators

by on October 26, 2010

The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, home of the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, just upgraded their main data-crunching supercomputing with 480 GPU’s, making it approximately 1-million times faster.

Researchers at the lab, officially known as Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, took the same approach, only they applied it to nuclear physics.

They turbocharged 266 central processing units, the part of a computer that functions like a brain, with 480 graphics processing units. As a result, the system absorbs information 1 million times faster than a standard computer.

The system helps researchers better predict and analyze experiments performed at the lab’s Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility. The beam, like the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, smashes atoms together to decipher quarks, dark matter and other particles that make up the basic building blocks of matter.

The work was funded by $5 Million from the ARRA (that always annoys me a bit), and was done with NVidia graphics cards.

However, I must report that I don’t entirely trust the numbers in the report.  They talk about 480 graphics units, but it’s a GTX480 in the system (From the photo above), so someone may have been confused.  Also, 1-million times faster I think is supposed to be compared to a single desktop, a relatively useless comparison.  More useful would be to see how it performed comparing the system before and after the GPUs were installed.

via Video game parts help build supercomputer at Jefferson Lab – WTKR.