Enabling simulation-based engineering science

SAFL’s new high-performance computing cluster comes online

In recent decades computer simulation has been added to the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) research toolbox, which traditionally included theory, laboratory and field-scale experimentation. Driven, however, by the exponential growth of computational power, scientific computing is now radically transforming our research philosophy by enabling the simulation of many complex flow phenomena across a broad range of scales in natural and engineered systems with an unprecedented degree of realism. The SAFL virtual deltas, streamlabs, wind farms and cardiovascular systems have now become indispensable research tools. Coupled with our state-of-art measurement techniques and unique experimental facilities, our simulation-based expertise has uniquely positioned the laboratory to make far-reaching advances in the major societal problems of our time in energy, the environment and human health. Examples include our ongoing simulation-based research aimed at understanding how sediments are transported in waterways; restoring deltas, rivers, and streams; optimizing wind and hydrokinetic turbine layouts; and improving the design of life-saving medical devices.

To sustain the rapid growth of our simulation-based research thrust, SAFL, with generous financial supportfrom the College of Science and Engineering and the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED), has recently launched its most powerful and high-performance computing (HPC) cluster, Aegean. This is a Supermicro-based system built by Nortech with 148 nodes, each containing dual 8-core AMD 6212 Interlagos processors and 32GB DDR3-1600 per node. The nodes are connected via a 40-gigabit QDR InfiniBand interconnect for low-latency inter-node communications. In total, Aegean consists of 2,368 cores and 4.7TB memory, with an estimated 19.7Tflops. In addition to the Aegean cluster, a new Lustre-based parallel storage system with 100TB of usable space is also available to SAFL-affiliated researchers. 

These HPC resources augment SAFL’s existing clusters, Sporades (526 cores) and Paros (220 cores) and provide the computing power needed to enable science-based solutions to fluid mechanics challenges in energy, environment and health. For additional information about ongoing computational research at SAFL, visit: