U-Md. supercomputer lands on list of top performers

July 6

Every university presumably provides a home for thought, but one of the Washington area’s premier institutions of higher education houses something more, and that is deepthought2.

Deepthought2, a new super-capable supercomputer, is owned and operated by the University of Maryland and it has made a splash in the world of fast calculation.

Last month it was ranked the 14th most powerful computer among all of those at American universities by a computer group that compiles a list of top-performing supercomputers.

A memo will go out Monday to the campus community that heralds the availability of the new cluster of computers, said Fran LoPresti, a top tech official at the College Park campus.

Deepthought2 is an array of computing equipment able to process 300 trillion operations every second, making it — in computer-speak — a 300 teraflop machine. That capacity is the equivalent of about 10,000 laptops working in concert, university officials said.

“People are very excited about it,” said Phyllis Dickerson Johnson, a university spokeswoman,

It has 2,000 times the storage of an average laptop and its internal network provides more than 50 times the speed of broadband.

This prodigy of information processing is expected to push obstacles from the path of campus researchers, freeing them from the need to apply to access equivalent capacity elsewhere.

It is housed about two miles from the College Park campus, in the university’s research zone in Riverdale Park.

To LoPresti, the most important thing is that the $4.2 million cost was met by the university, without federal funding. “It’s a lot for a university to put together,” she said.

As for deepthought, the predecessor computer cluster, that will continue in operation, officials said.

And as for the name, bestowing such a sobriquet is part of the culture of the academic computing world. The particular handle was inspired by the book “A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” LoPresti said.

The ranking was released last month by TOP500.rg, which makes a list of top computers twice a year. In the most recent listing, deepthought2 ranked 347th in the world.

“Having one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers” shows that the school aims to offer the capabilities needed for a dramatic boost to scientific discovery and exploration,” said Ann G. Wylie, interim vice president for information technology.

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