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Anvil accelerates sustainability and photosynthesis research

  • Science Highlights

Purdue’s Anvil supercomputer is helping a Michigan State research team study processes associated with photosynthesis and plant metabolism, and apply those insights to facilitate more efficient energy conversion to meet today’s sustainability challenges.

Josh Vermaas, an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s DOE Plant Research Laboratory and his postdocs Daipayan Sarkar and Martin Kulke used Anvil to perform molecular dynamics simulations to study the movement of small molecules, such as how carbon dioxide crosses a plant plasma membrane during photosynthesis.

“Because of Anvil’s state-of-the-art GPUs, we’ve gained four times better performance compared to our previous benchmarks,” says Sarkar.

“Our new molecular simulation engines can make GPUs talk to each other and how fast a simulation can go is limited by how much they can communicate,” adds Vermaas. “The key fact of Anvil for us is that it has four A100 GPUs. They’re faster than the GPUs we have locally and because they’re all linked together, we can use all of them at once.”

Anvil, which was recently named the 143rd fastest supercomputer in the world, has now completed its early user testing phase and is available for the general public to use. Researchers may request access to Anvil via the ACCESS allocation process.

Anvil consists of 1,000 nodes with two 64-core third-generation AMD EPYC processors each, and will deliver over 1 billion CPU core hours to the Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services and Support (ACCESS) each year, with a peak performance of 5.1 petaflops. Anvil's nodes are interconnected with 100 Gbps Mellanox HDR InfiniBand. The supercomputer ecosystem also includes 32 large memory nodes, each with 1 TB of RAM, and 16 nodes each with four NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs providing 1.5 PF of single-precision performance to support machine learning and artificial intelligence applications.

Research on Anvil will be able to leverage a diverse set of storage technologies, anchored by a 10-plus PB parallel filesystem, boosted with over 3 PB of flash disk. Novel workflows will benefit from block and object storage systems also supported by Anvil.

More information about Anvil is available on Purdue’s Anvil website. Anyone with questions should contact anvil@purdue.edu. Anvil is funded under NSF award No. 2005632.

Writer: Adrienne Miller, science and technology writer, Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, mill2027@purdue.edu.

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