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‘Wee ARCHIE’ supercomputer comes to visit

Members of the School of Informatics are being given an exclusive opportunity to see digital dinosaurs put bite-sized supercomputer ‘Wee ARCHIE’ through its paces.

A demonstration of the technology will take place, 11am-12noon, Wednesday, 20 January in G.07, Informatics Forum, following the press launch of the supercomputer.

The compact machine – called Wee ARCHIE – has been developed to show how the world’s most powerful computers work. It takes its name from the £43m ARCHER supercomputer at the University of Edinburgh's Advanced Computing Facility.

High performance

Wee ARCHIE replicates in miniature high performance computing techniques to simulate races between on-screen Argentinosaurus. It has already proven popular with school pupils at outreach events designed to shed light on the complexities of supercomputing.

Wee ARCHIE and its larger namesake use parallel computing systems, which enable many calculations to be completed instantaneously on different microprocessors.

Portable

The portable system displays the types of hardware found inside the world’s fastest, most powerful supercomputers. It was designed and built by the University’s science outreach group, FUSION, in collaboration with the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC).

Wee ARCHIE contains 18 credit card-sized processors housed in a custom-made Perspex case. LED displays on each of the processors light up when they are in use, showing how multiple parts of a parallel computing system work together to perform complex tasks.

The program lets users modify the structure of dinosaurs’ muscles and joints, altering their ability to run. Wee ARCHIE tests each of the configurations quickly, and presents the results as an on-screen race.

Supercomputers in action

Supercomputers are used for tasks that require huge amounts of processing power, such as weather forecasting and molecular modelling of biological compounds. They often occupy several thousand square feet.

ARCHER provides high performance computing support for research and industry projects in the UK.

Useful links

Wee ARCHIE on the EPCC website