Powering The Little Red Dot

Home to the only petaFLOPS-scale system in Southeast Asia, the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore handles large volumes of data generated by the small island nation.

AsianScientist (Jan. 3, 2017) – Though it has comparatively fewer citizens than the other countries in Southeast Asia, Singapore makes the most out of its most precious resource—its people. The small island nation houses some of the top universities in Asia and is internationally recognized as a research powerhouse that punches well above its weight. Correspondingly, Singapore’s highly educated and tech-savvy population has a large appetite for high performance computing (HPC) to support its research efforts in both academia and industry.

Those needs have now been met in the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore (NSCC). As the first national center of petascale standard in Singapore and the wider region of Southeast Asia, NSCC is a plug-and-play facility that offers computing, multi-petabyte data storage and multi-gigabit speed network resources to enable users to solve scientific and technological problems.

“In today’s world, the availability of HPC is an indicator of the country’s scientific and engineering prowess, and more importantly, an economic driver,” said Mr. Jon Lau, deputy director (business development) at NSCC.

“Here at NSCC, our aim is to use supercomputers to enable researchers to conduct research at the speed of thought, leveraging technology to transform society and individual lives through research.”

Predicting the next big one

For researchers like Sylvain Barbot, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University’s Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), the NSCC facility is indeed an indispensable resource.

“HPC is critical to analyzing remote sensing data and modeling large geophysical datasets that help us understand our changing planet,” said Barbot, who studies the physics of earthquakes and tectonic plate boundaries, seeking to describe how earthquakes start and why they cause so much destruction.

By offering flexible architecture that allows researchers to deal with the large datasets generated by remote sensing and field data, NSCC facilitates computationally demanding simulations and the intense data processing required to understand the complexity of the Earth’s mechanical behavior, he added.

“In fact, HPC was central to many groundbreaking studies at EOS,” Barbot told Supercomputing Asia. “For example, we have used HPC to study historical data on tsunamis in Southeast Asia to better understand current risk, and also how much shaking would occur in Singapore if an earthquake were to strike nearby Indonesia.”

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Coming from a design background, Filzah brings a fresh perspective to science communications. She is particularly interested in healthcare and technology.

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