News

SUU Brings Supercomputing into the Classroom with Star-P

June 12, 2008
Category: Academics


Southern Utah University believes high performance computing (HPC) should move beyond the realm of just a school’s elite research labs and become a common classroom resource for undergraduate studies.

To this end, SUU is teaming with Interactive Supercomputing Inc. (ISC) to make HPC easy and accessible for students and faculty of all levels. It is part of a program developed by SUU's College of Computing, Integrated Engineering and Technology (CCIET) to foster an integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum combining math, engineering and computer science departments.

SUU is providing students and faculty access to the school’s powerful Dell 128-node parallel cluster using ISC’s Star-P software. Star-P is an interactive program that delivers parallel computing capabilities to desktop users, without forcing them to become parallel programming experts.

The programming will enable SUU users to easily code models and algorithms using their familiar desktop programs, automatically transforming the application to run on the parallel clusters. In a nutshell, work as a translator between two different computer languages.

Star-P eliminates the need to re-program the applications in complex languages such as C and FORTRAN or use MPI (message passing interface) to run in parallel.

“Our mission is to help students achieve their academic goals and to compete on a global level for careers in government, industry, secondary education, and acceptance to graduate school. Supercomputing is increasingly playing a critical role in those career paths,” said Mikhail Bouniaev, dean of CCIET and professor of mathematics. “While SUU is a small university, we believe our unique interdisciplinary undergraduate research program that integrates supercomputing will become a model for schools across the country.”

The CCIET provides programs in computer science, engineering, information systems, mathematics, technology and interdisciplinary studies, with three college-wide goals:
• create a solid integrated undergraduate curriculum;
• provide HPC resources for applied research in mathematics, engineering and computer science, for use in applications such as differential equations, fluid dynamics, computer-aided design., etc.; and
• provide a resource for faculty who want to get started in HPC but don’t know where or how begin.

The new program kicks off this August at the Utah Advanced Computing Summer Institute in Cedar City. Here, attendees will use Star-P to learn how HPC works in research, teaching, design and production. It will feature HPC experts from industry, government and academia.

“SUU’s drive to deliver applied experience and unite cross-departmental disciplines through high-performance computing reinforces the importance of developing the next generation of technology, research and academic leaders,” said Mark Horan, vice president, Dell Public Accounts. “Dell is committed to simplifying IT and supporting creative uses of technology resources that enrich the educational environment for students and faculty.”

As for the strength of the partnership between SUU and ISC, Dean Bouniaev stated, “Star-P will make the transition from desktop computing to HPC smooth and easy.”

According to Bouniaev, “Supercomputing is a key area that can unite almost all disciplines in our college. With it, we can create curricula from which students can develop a sound understanding of fundamentals, as well as investigate specialized theories, practices, and experiments that enhance their learning.”

About Southern Utah University
Through its more than 100-year history, Southern Utah University has evolved from a teacher training school into its current role as a comprehensive, regional university to more than 7,000 students from across the globe. It serves the southern region of Utah and contiguous counties in surrounding states with undergraduate and graduate programs in six colleges. People of the region look to the University for outreach services, culture, economic and business development, higher learning, regional history, public affairs, major academic specialties, and significant entertainment and recreation. Accentuated by the notable, economic value of its services, SUU's hallmark is its quality staff, faculty and academics.

About Interactive Supercomputing
Interactive Supercomputing (ISC) launched in 2004 to commercialize Star-P, an interactive parallel computing platform. With automatic parallelization and interactive execution of existing desktop simulation applications, Star-P merges two previously distinct environments - desktop computers and high performance servers - into one. Based in Waltham, Mass., the privately held company markets Star-P for a range of biomedical, financial, and government laboratory research applications.

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