VIRAC Department of High Performance Computing (HPC) is to enable Ventspils University College, as a research institute, to ensure processing of high velocity and high volume numerical data, which includes processing and analysing VIRAC radio-telescope data, computer-aided engineering, computer-aided problem solving in physics and mathematics, as well as computer-aided research in the field. The parallel algorithms designed by VIRAC researchers provide astronomical data correlating for VLBI observing sessions. Our expertise in physical field equations and mechanics combined with our equipment (HPC cluster) serves also the needs of local industry, such as calculating mechanical loads for separate components of newly designed products, prototyping, and mechanical testing of small components.
The possibility to serve these advanced needs of the industry has been brought by the accelerated progress in computing technologies, and the last five decades – among other developments – feature high volume numerical calculations of physical fields. Such calculations serve the needs also of natural sciences, or climate science – in describing the structures in the atmosphere or even cosmological structures and their formation.
The continuous development of numerical methods in software product design is also boosted by the current manufacturing trends, such as material economy, automated design, consumerism-dictated short product life cycles, costly experimental developments, etc. Numerical simulations offer a cost-effective alternative for the costly experimental tests through computer-aided design of most of the technology-intensive and non-mission critical products. Product development using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and mechanical engineering calculations are bound to lead to financial, material and time resource economy. Also numerical modelling is an integral part in manufacturing nowadays. Calculations of solid body deformations and loading, fatigue load and fracture mechanics, heat and mass transfer in liquid and gas environments, as well as interaction of solid body with fluids, and calculation of electromagnetic fields are all responsibility of engineering physics. These issues are addressed by many scientific institutions, manufacturers and engineering consultants, usually clustered around large industrial centres. The wide variety of all the problems addressed by engineering physics as well as the rich world through which it addresses the problems – from the wide range of physical phenomena and applied solution methods to the whole spectrum and complexity of problems to be addressed – are the elements that make this research branch so popular.
This VUC research area has its roots in the scientific research projects, which include numerical modelling for the local industry (several small-scale fluid dynamics calculations and solid-state mechanical engineering calculations for vertical axis wind turbines); infrastructure development-related research in Irbene radio telescope station, such as RT-16 and RT-32 antennae deformation calculations, the results of which were contrasted against the strain sensor data to test the quality of the structure. Some of the research conclusions have contributed to VIRAC modernisations projects. Apart from that, VUC HPC Department has close ties with Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, and its infrastructure-related calculations – of proton beam targets and other objects – were performed with the help of our department. Similarly, by offering computational fluid dynamics calculations, our department has supported research of Physics of Continuous Media unit, the University of Latvia, namely, the group specialising in crystal growth calculations (former supervisor asoc. Prof. A. Muižnieks).
The parallel algorithms, developed by the HPC department for VIRAC data correlation, fully comply with the data correlation standards set by VLBI network. VIRAC data correlation facility uses standard cluster solutions – the Message Passing Interface standard – and is able to ensure real-time data correlation during on-going observation sessions.
VIRAC High Performance Computer technical parameters:
Node (total 30 items) with two Intel Xeon E5-2630 v3 processors with 8 cores for each, the RAM is 128 GB DDR3 1600MHz Dual Rank ECC RDIMM, the disk space is two 300 GB 10000 rpm SAS HDD for item. The communication with other nodes is implemented with port of 40 Gb/s QDR InfiniBand.