[Beowulf] HPC demonstrations

Prentice Bisbal prentice.bisbal at rutgers.edu
Tue Feb 10 08:04:17 PST 2015


I gave a similar talk last week to my local LOPSA chapter (League of 
Professional System Administrators). Here's some suggestions:

1. NASA: A Years in the LIfe of Earth's CO2:
article on simulation: http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2190/
direct link to youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1SgmFa0r04

2. The Cardioid heart simulation (yes, another heart simulation!)
Here's a good video that explains everything about the simulation to 
kids at a 'science on Saturday' event. You might be able to find shorter 
clips or images elsewhere, but this video is a good overview for you to 
watch if your not familiar with the project. It has some good 
information on why we use simulations in the first place, too.


3. Videos of molecular simulations are good, since it demonstrates 
simulation something that we couldn't otherwise observe. A quick search 
on Youtube showed many videos of this.

4. Nothing visual, but the the recent 'Blizzard of 2015' that never hit 
many of the predicted targets of the United States' East Coast is a 
perfect example of why we need HPC, and how it's costs can be justified. 
Here's what happened.

Basically, the forecasts predicted that the Mid-Atlantic and New England 
regions were going to get hard with snow. In the NJ/NYC area where I 
live, they predicted 18"-24" of snow. Not sure what level of Armageddon 
was predicted for the areas outside of my news broadcast area. As a 
result, states of emergency were declared in NJ/NYC and the surrounding 
areas, shutting down EVERYTHING.Let me re-iterate that: EVERYTHING in 
the NYC metro area was shut down This started the evening before the 
storm was supposed to hit. My local utility company brought something 
like 400 line crews in from the mid-west to help with the after-storm 
clean up, since it was predicted that many power lines would come down 
from the blizzard. The university where I work, which has over 50,000 
students and employs over 10,000, cancelled classes and closed for 

The NYC metro-area is the largest economy in the US, and is probably 
bigger than the economy of many countries, and through the financial 
center of NYC has a huge effect on the global economy.

What happened with the storm? Most of the NJ/NYC area only 1-2 inches of 
snow, and the 50 MPH winds that were predicted never happened. In fact 
my area got in increased wind at all. In other words, it was hardly 
worth shutting anything down for. Eastern Long Island and north (Boston, 
etc.) got hit hard, but the NYC metro area was hardly touched.

So, what did this shutdowns cost the businesses and governments that 
were supposed to get hit hard? I'd bet the cost in list income, revenue, 
overtime for government workers, etc, was in the billions just in NYC 
metro alone, not considering Philly, DC, etc. that might have taken 
similar actions unnecessarily. How much would better computers cost that 
run more accurate simulations to avoid gaffs like this? Tens of millions 
of dollars? Hundreds of millions? Even if it is hundreds of millions, it 
would still be a savings for the local governments and businesses when 
you think about it.

Prentice Bisbal
Manager of Information Technology
Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2)
Rutgers University

On 02/10/2015 05:52 AM, John Hearns wrote:
> I am giving an internal talk tomorrow, a lightweight introduction to HPC.
> Can anyone suggest any demonstrations of HPC which I could give – 
> something visual?
> Or are there any videos I could pick up from somewhere?
> I ahad thought on showing an H-bomb test video from Youtube, and 
> saying “Well, you aran’t allowed to do that any more”
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