University of Warwick
One of the first tasks for the University of Warwick’s
new supercomputer is to use its monster megabytes to analyze the natural
properties of the tiny mollusk shell.
The humble mollusk shell is made up of only one mineral:
calcium carbonate, yet the combination of that plus other enzymes and proteins
give it remarkable properties in terms of strength while remaining incredibly
By modeling the process of its construction on the computer,
scientists from the University
of Warwick are hoping to
guide future development of materials which replicate these natural properties
in a synthetic format. It could revolutionize building materials in the future
and even improve synthetic bone substitutes for use in operations such as hip
In their quest to fathom out how to mimic mother nature,
mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and biologists are using the enormous
capacity of the supercomputer to run models and analysis which is speeding up
their research considerably.
Housed in the Physical Sciences Building on campus the
computer, which is equivalent in size to eight tall filing cabinets, stands at
more than six feet and has some 3,000 cores. Professor Mark Rodger, Director
for the Centre for Scientific Computing, explains: “When you think that your PC
or laptop at home is generally dual core (only two cores), it puts into
perspective the potential capacity of just how powerful this computer is.”
There are only a handful of computers with this capacity in
the country with Warwick’s model being one of
the largest at any HE institute in the U.K.
“This computer is capable of running highly complicated
models and analysis in a fraction of the time other computers would take. So
now, what used to take a week to run, we can obtain overnight. This has a huge
benefit in terms of cost and time and will be incredibly valuable to the
can offer its academics.
“The other benefit is that we are able to support local SMEs
who may have the opportunity to access our expertise and this analytical
resource—something that very few commercial organizations would be able to do
and which demonstrates the University’s commitment to support and encourage
local industry,” adds Rodger.