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Tech Expands 3D Visualization and HPC Systems

3D VizDuring the past summer, Computer Science Department Head Jeff Braun and Chemistry Department Head David Hobbs expanded both the 3D Visualization System and the high performance computing (HPC) cluster. Dr. David Hobbs (photographed by Walt Hinick, Montana Standard) explains how the immersive 3D visualization system is used to research molecular dynamics for a Montana Standard article.

We added optical tracking to the 3D visualization system so that the viewer can better interact with the data.  The x, y, z position of the user's head is tracked with 6 reflective markers on the 3D glasses. These markers reflect the infrared light back to the tracking system cameras so both the head's position (3 coordinates) and orientation (3 independent angular coordinates) are calculated so that the 3D display is optimized as the viewer moves in and around the data. The SmartTrack system purchased from Adanced Realtime Tracking includes a wand or controller device (not pictured) that allows the user to directly manipulate the data visualization imagery.

Montana Tech's high performance computing (HPC) cluster was also expanded this summer with the addition of two GPU nodes. These two nodes are configured like the other 20 compute nodes with two 8-core Intel Xeon Sandy Bridge processors and 64 GB of memory, but also include two NDIVIA Tesla K20 Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) accelerators. Each of these GPUs contains 2496 cores, so the additional of the 9984 GPU cores brings the theoretical peak performance to over 10 TFLOPS.  Ten TFLOPS (tera flops) is 10 trillion floating point operations per second.  NAMD Theoretical Molecular Dynamics software that generated the 3D data being visualized in the above picture is one application that can take advantage of the new GPU nodes.