Imagine technology that uses the power of computing to determine the accuracy of wine grapes, aid in wildfire analysis and evaluate the influence of social networks and political ideologies. Thanks to a $100,000 donation from Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE), the Cal Poly parallel computing lab will be able to do all of these things.
According to a press release, parallel computing is the simultaneous use of multiple computing resources to solve a problem a computer can solve. The primary goal of parallel computing is to increase the power of the computer as it performs an operation for faster application problem solving.
The lab at Cal Poly is the only one of its kind on any of the 23 California State University (CSU) campuses.
Computer Science and Software Engineering Department Chair Chris Lupo said HPE’s donation is “significant” and will allow researchers to process larger quantities of data and will enhance interdisciplinary collaborations across Cal Poly departments where computing experts and domain experts work together to solve problems.
Lupo said this high-end equipment would otherwise be unavailable to students and the upgrade will provide students to work with “cutting-edge” computing techniques. There’s a variety of “interesting and compelling” topics that can be studied with this kind of platform, he said.
Computer science and software engineering professor Franz Kurfess said students using the new upgrade can now perform computational tasks that go much farther beyond any of the capabilities that are available on their own computers while still controlling the environment that the experiments are done in.
Computer science senior Lemar Popal can create bigger projects without worrying about hardware, cost or time.
“In the past, I would have to scale down projects by using smaller datasets and perform less complex analysis, pay to rent more powerful hardware from cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and/or wait several days for the computation to finish,” Popal said.
Lupo said the donation is a win for the community, as students get access to high-end equipment and faculty can get better research done.
Getting familiar with the technology can provide a competitive advantage for students when entering professional industries, according to Kurfess and Lupo.
“For students in our programs the real advantage is the practice of solving real world problems with actual data,” Lupo said.