AUSTIN, Texas – Twenty years ago, a handful of computer experts with a Cray computing cluster began building the Texas Advanced Computing Center, or TACC, at the University of Texas at Austin in a research organization that today hui is at the pinnacle of university intensive computing.
On September 30, the center and its oldest partners – the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Dell Technologies – celebrated this milestone with remarks on the growing importance of advanced computing and the role of TACC in scientific and technical discoveries.
“Two decades ago, UT made a big bet on TACC and supercomputing. It’s an investment that has paid off, ”said Jay Hartzell, president of UT Austin. “And, given the proliferation of data science, AI, and machine learning across fields and across society, there is no limit to the impact of TACC over the years. Next 20 years. “
Throughout its history, TACC has fueled many notable discoveries, helped society, and enabled new approaches to answer humanity’s oldest questions.
- Astronomers used TACC systems to analyze the data and confirm the very first image of a black hole from the Event Horizon telescope.
- The TACC has devoted more than 30% of its IT resources to supporting more than 50 COVID-19 research teams, which has led to the first atomistic model of SARS-CoV-2 and the daily pandemic predictions that continue to guide people. national, local and national political decisions.
- The TACC supercomputers have confirmed the first observation of gravitational waves by detectors of the Observatory of gravitational waves by laser interferometer (LIGO). The discovery opened a new window on the universe and led to a Nobel Prize in physics in 2017.
- Physicists calculated the behavior of ‘magic angle’ twisted graphene using TACC systems and came up with a theory that a decade later led to superconducting materials that could enable quantum computing and electrical transmission. more efficient.
Since June 2001, the center has grown from a dozen employees to nearly 200, with emerging expertise in data science and artificial intelligence, life sciences, science gateways and STEM education.
The center now operates two of the most powerful university supercomputers in the United States: Frontera, 10th fastest in the world; and Stampede2, currently 35th – and over a dozen advanced computer systems in total. Tens of thousands of academics and students from across the United States use TACC’s supercomputers each year to advance all fields of science, from astronomy to zoology, and from the nanoscale to the cosmic scale.
“TACC’s growth has been remarkable and is a testament to the people who work here and the organizations that have supported us, including UT Austin, UT System, the National Science Foundation, the O’Donnell Foundation and Dell Technologies – our longest and longest. consistent champions, ”said Dan Stanzione, executive director of TACC and associate vice president for research at UT Austin.
Over time, TACC has become a critical contributor to emergencies, producing urgent storm surge simulations for hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and guiding first responders after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“TACC’s resources have been of extraordinary service to science, ranging from its resource contribution to the COVID-19 HPC consortium, to its cultivation of new talent through the Frontera Computational Science Fellowships,” said Margaret Martonosi, Deputy Director of the NSF for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.
Support for the TACC has broadened in recent years to include federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as the State of Texas, the city of Austin, Microsoft and even Tito’s Vodka.
Throughout its history, the center has established close partnerships with technology companies, including Dell Technologies, to design systems and develop tools for the academic research community.
“At Dell Technologies, we are extremely proud to stand alongside UT and TACC as we continue to set the bar for high performance computing,” said Michael Dell, President and CEO of Dell Technologies.
The IT community has grown tremendously over the past two decades, encompassing entire new disciplines, from digital humanities to computational oncology and deep learning.
“Supercomputing has become essential to research in all areas of science, engineering and medicine,” said Dan Jaffe, vice president of research at UT Austin. “TACC has not only dramatically increased its computational capabilities, but also as a research partner and partner to the many researchers around the world who use it. I can’t wait to see what upcoming improvements to the machines and the TACC ecosystem bring in terms of new discoveries and even more impactful contributions to society. “
The center celebrated its anniversary with remarks from Hartzell, Jaffe, Dell, Martonosi and Stanzione.