The Department of Physics and Engineering has deployed a High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster for use by students in their research and class work. This cluster consists of two Dell PowerEdge R620 servers, each with two 8-core Intel Xeon processors (Intel Xeon E5-2650 2.00GHz, 20M Cache, 8.0GT/s) and each with 32GB RAM (1600 MHz). The nodes of the "Narnia cluster" are named after characters from "The Chronicles of Narnia", and access to the cluster starts with the head node "Tumnus". The cluster runs the Ubuntu distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system and is administered by Professor John Beckett of the School of Computing.
Why is this a department priority? Because Moore's law has failed--processor speeds no longer double every 18 months. Instead, processors are coming with more cores and the only way to continue to increase computational capabilities is to learn to program in parallel. The Narnia cluster may be small, but it has a similar topology and the GNU/Linux operating system used by nearly all of the top supercomputers in the world. We expect that experience with this resource will open doors for our students.
The use of the physics "Narnia" cluster has gained momentum over the last academic year.
We expect to extensively utilize the cluster in the coming academic year and will soon report on some very interesting student projects in the works! For instance, Professor Blake Laing will use the cluster to investigate a model of above-threshold ionization and to calculate properties of three trapped particles with an electric dipole moment.