It has become a critical technology for national scientific development, with the capacity to calculate the equivalent of 25 thousand connected notebooks. It currently helps more than 400 scientists who advance in more than 200 basic research projects.
It began operating in 2014 with the ‘Leftraru‘ unit on the premises of the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of the U. de Chile. In 2019 the ‘Guacolda‘ cluster came to expand by five times its processing capacity, reaching 266 teraflops and 5,236 cores, with a hard disk of 274 terabytes and 23 terabytes of RAM memory. Today, Guacolda-Leftraru, housed at the National Laboratory for High Performance Computing (NLHPC), can be used to solve practically any problem, “especially those that are very computationally intensive, or those that need to be solved in less time than it takes systems with less capacity”, emphasizes Ginés Guerrero, executive director of the NLHPC.
The NLHPC offers computational and collaborative resources to the country’s scientific community to enhance the impact of research, development and innovation. The contribution of Guacolda-Leftraru contributes to the national welfare beyond science, since the team in charge of the technology is also concerned with optimizing business competitiveness and promoting innovations required by the public sector.
The services offered by the supercomputer cover initiatives that require processing huge volumes of data, in areas such as mining, agriculture, economics, medicine and chemistry. These include predictive models of climate change in the country and research currently addressing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this sense, the use of the supercomputer has been key to the fight against COVID-19, a context in which we have hosted 14 related projects. Much of the information obtained has been a key input for decision making at the governmental table”, details Guerrero.
One of the investigations currently being developed with NLHPC technology is led by Nicolás Garrido, director of the Economics Department at Universidad Diego Portales, who uses the supercomputer to build a computational model of COVID-19 diffusion, aimed at exploring the effects of different policy decisions. “This research could not be done on ordinary computers, since we must project the displacement of 5 million people in Santiago, to say a case”, emphasizes the researcher.
At the same time, Andy Mella Orellana, a PhD student in Engineering Sciences, mention in Materials at FCFM, uses Guacolda-Leftraru to implement a bioinformatics method that automatically collects and aggregates the different SARS-CoV-2 variants from genomic sequences. “We have analyzed 229,000 SARS-CoV-2 viral sequences until November 30, 2020, and managed to identify more than 39,000 variants worldwide.”
Carlos Lagos, an academic at Universidad San Sebastián’s School of Chemistry and Pharmacy, uses the supercomputer to identify drugs, where he applies computational methods. “The use of the cluster is essential for this task, as it allows us to reduce calculation times and increase our productivity,” he argues. The use of the NLHPC equipment has allowed longer and more complex simulations “that have resulted in undergraduate thesis work and the generation of publications in high impact journals,” concludes Lagos.
Undoubtedly, the contribution that Guacolda-Leftraru gives to the scientific development of Chile has helped to position local research at the service of phenomena that require answers in the short and medium term. “The possibilities that this supercomputer has to solve problems and contribute to the country are infinite,” emphasizes Ginés Guerrero.
“It is clear that countries, in order to be recognized in the digital world, must equip themselves with skills in human resources and infrastructure. We need locally installed computing capacity and that is precisely what NLHPC represents, a critical capacity at a global level to calculate in science and industry. This is how we become viable in the digital world,” explains former CMM director Alejandro Maass.
“In Chile we have a significant gap with respect to the leading countries in digital”, adds Demián Arancibia, head of the Future Team of the Ministry of Science, who stresses the importance of having a national high-performance computing laboratory, which offers talent training spaces for the entire national ecosystem.
By Gonzalo Rosas, Fundación Encuentros del Futuro,
for the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM)
Previously published in Beauchef Magazine
Posted on Nov 16, 2021 in News