By Caitlyn Finnegan
The University of Florida unveiled the state’s most powerful supercomputer on Tuesday afternoon at its East Campus off Waldo Road. The addition of the $3.4 million computer has UF poised to take a spot in the top 10 leading public research universities in the nation, according to UF President Bernie Machen.
The computer, known as HiPerGator, is housed in the 25,000-square-foot UF Data Center, a $15 million facility built to protect the system as well as other services including online courses and data reserves.
HiPerGator has enough steam to do the work of 4,000 high-end laptops, or 150 trillion calculations per second. The heavy number-crunching will give researchers feedback in record times, taking computations that would have required months or even years to accurately complete to just weeks or even days.
UF worked with Dell, Terascala, Mellanox and AMD to build the machine they envisioned would make supercomputing power available to all UF faculty and their collaborators. Its services will support more than $160 million available in annual research grants for 160 teams, totaling 500 researchers.
Several researchers already taking advantage of the computer’s abilities were featured in an eight-minute video during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The computer will be used to forecast weather patterns up to 50 years in the future, track ocean currents to help pinpoint where an oil spill might float to, and help quickly get drugs from the computer to the clinic to help patients suffering from diseases including cancer and diabetes.
“This will serve as an important hub where our scientists here can share data with colleagues around the globe each day,” said Dr. David Norton, the vice president of research for UF.
The need for even more computing power in the coming years was not overlooked; the facility was designed to be expanded up to three times its current size in order to meet future demands.
Mayor Craig Lowe also spoke before the crowd, citing the power of efforts like this one to help make an impact on developing the east side of Gainesville and praising the facility as it continues to grow.