Today’s supercomputers are the most powerful calculating machines ever invented, capable of performing more than a thousand million calculations every second. This gives scientists and engineers a powerful new tool to study the natural world – computer simulation. Using supercomputers, we can now conduct virtual experiments that are impossible in the real world – from looking deep inside individual atoms to studying the future climate of the earth and following the evolution of the entire universe from the big bang.
Discover how supercomputers are powering scientific breakthroughs
This free online course will introduce you to what supercomputers are, how they are used and how we can exploit their full computational potential to make scientific breakthroughs. Over five weeks, we’ll look at:
- supercomputers: introducing supercomputing terminology and some of the largest machines in the world.
- parallel computers: how they are built from hundreds of thousands of CPUs, each similar to those in a desktop PC.
- parallel computing: using parallel processing to harness the power of all of those CPUs for a single calculation.
- computer simulation: how we can perform virtual experiments to make real-life predictions.
- case studies: how supercomputing is making scientific breakthroughs that were never possible before.
Learn with Europe’s leading supercomputing experts
This supercomputing course has been developed by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) and the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) at The University of Edinburgh in collaboration with SURFsara from The Netherlands. PRACE coordinates many of the largest supercomputers in Europe, so has world-leading experience of the benefits that supercomputing can bring. EPCC is a PRACE partner, operates the UK national supercomputer ARCHER and has a long history of developing and delivering training.
What topics will you cover?
- Supercomputers: introducing supercomputing terminology and some of the largest machines in the world
- Parallel computers: how they are built from hundreds of thousands of CPUs, each similar to those in a desktop PC
- Parallel computing: using parallel processing to harness the power of all of those CPUs for a single calculation
- Computer simulation: how we can perform virtual experiments to make real-life predictions
- Case studies: how supercomputing is making scientific breakthroughs that were never possible before
What will you achieve?
- Describe how the performance of modern supercomputers is measured and achieved
- Explain why they are built from thousands of simple processors
- Compare the architectures of shared-memory and distributed-memory computers
- Describe the shared-variables and message-passing programming models
- Summarise why computer simulation is a fundamental component of modern scientific discovery
- Investigate simple problems and look for opportunities for parallel processing
- Discuss the limitations of parallel computing
- Identify examples of scientific areas where computer simulation is used
Who is the course for?
This course is designed for anyone interested in leading-edge computing technology, supercomputers or the role that computer simulation takes in modern science and engineering. All of the technical aspects will be covered at a conceptual level and there is no requirement to be able to write computer programs. However, anyone with existing programming experience will learn how programming modern supercomputers differ from programming a home PC.
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