Evan Schneider, an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh, has been one of the chief architects of CHOLLA: one of eight key scientific applications for a new supercomputer called Frontier at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which already hosts one of the fastest supercomputer in the world to date. CHOLLA is expected to surpass this, becoming the fastest open science supercomputer in the world when it arrives in 2021.
"Astronomy is an observational science,” says Dr. Schneider. “But a revolution in astronomy over the last 40 years has been our ability to use numerical simulations to try to understand how the universe is evolving. Unlike most physical sciences where you can conduct experiments, and the time scales of the experiments happen in relevant human lifetimes, in astronomy, things change on much longer timescales. The only way we can get a moving picture of things is by conducting numerical simulations.”
CHOLLA was created to provide this time-based analysis, particularly focusing on galaxy formation, with its processing accelerated by GPUs.
"If you can make a hardware that runs as twice as fast, then my simulation code runs twice as fast. That means that I can run higher resolution simulations. Having access to this exascale machine is a game changer for the kinds of problems that we can simulate."