Experiences With a Supercomputerby John I. Finnie, Univ of Idaho, Moscow, United States,
Verne Geidl, Univ of Idaho, Moscow, United States,
Abstract: The advent of ever faster and ever larger computers is opening new areas of scientific study. Within this computational revolution, however, are real people trying to cope with the vagaries of the continuously changing demands of new hardware and software. The increase in problem solving power always has a price. Part of that price is the capital cost of hardware, but a significant human price is also paid in terms of the investment (and frustrations) inherent in learning to cope with new systems. Under the National Science Foundations' program, free supercomputer time is allocated to university researchers. This paper considers both the benefits, and time and money costs of using supercomputing centers. The benefits of supercomputing are shown by example solutions from computational, fluid and solid mechanics. Computation times are compared to identical calculations performed on minicomputer and supercomputer. Investment of money and time for using the centers include: connection costs (modem or dedicated network); learning one more operating system, editor, and compiler; coping with off-campus consultants; restricted use times for large jobs; differences in 'standard' languages; and dealing with massive amounts of output. Hopefully, with the information in this paper, a new user would be able to acquire a grant of supercomputing time, and be aware of expected costs, (as well as benefits) of supercomputer use.
Subject Headings: Pricing | Investments | Computer analysis | Computer aided operations | Assets | Human factors
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