Tech Talk

One of the world's most powerful computers lands at University of Texas

One of the world's most powerful computers lands at UT Austin

University of Texas at Austin aerial
UT's new supercomputer has the processing power of about 100,000 of desktop computers. Photo via Tex.org

The University of Texas at Austin is now home to one of the world's most powerful computers. In late July, Texas Advanced Computing Center unveiled a new supercomputer, dubbed Stampede2, at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.

Supercomputers are the bodybuilders of the computer world, and Stampede2 has the processing power of about 100,000 of desktop computers. It is the most powerful supercomputer at any U.S. university — and the 12th most powerful in the world. 

"Stampede2 represents a new horizon for academic researchers in the U.S.," says Dan Stanzione, TACC's executive director, in a release. "It will serve as the workhorse for our nation's scientists and engineers, allowing them to improve our competitiveness and ensure that UT Austin remains a leader in computational research for the national open science community."

Thanks to a $30 million award from the National Science Foundation, TACC designed and constructed Stampede2 with help from Dell, Intel, and Seagate. TACC also received an additional $24 million to cover operations costs for the system.

UT will collaborate with other universities — Clemson University, Cornell University, Indiana University, The Ohio State University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder — to tackle problems they never could have tackled before. Early research computed on Stampede2 includes tumor identification with magnetic resonance imaging at UT, real-time weather forecasting at the University of Oklahoma, and earthquake prediction at the University of California.

Stampede2 builds on the technology from its predecessor, Stampede, which was introduced in 2013. Stampede helped researchers study a wide range of topics, from the earth's mantle to gravitational waves in space.

But, as the release put it, "supercomputers live fast and retire young." Stampede was retired in 2017 after a five-year run. Stampede2 is expected to operate until 2021.