Research Computing is excited to welcome our first Blanca HPC contributor, the National Solar Observatory (NSO). NSO, funded by the National Science Foundation, turned to Research Computing to develop a new High-Performance Computing (HPC) offering for Blanca. These HPC nodes support distributed parallel computing and come with the same system management that Research Computing provides to all Blanca contributors.

The NSO studies the Sun and its influence on Earth using spectra obtained by telescopes to derive physical qualities. This technique is called spectral inversion and it requires large amounts of computation to accomplish. Each image captured by the telescope has around four million pixels and each pixel has its own spectrum. Processing the spectra is highly parallelizable as each pixel can be processed independently at the same time. The nature of the research means Blanca HPC nodes are an ideal choice for NSO. Blanca’s new HPC nodes support low-latency Message Passing Interface (MPI) communication over InfiniBand. This allows NSO to parallelize the demanding calculations that each spectrum requires across multiple nodes.

In the future, NSO hopes to use Blanca nodes to run realistic simulations and create 3D models to better study radiation, convection, and other solar interactions. These models will aid the real-world observations in developing a better understanding of our Sun. Additionally, NSO is considering applying machine learning to process data collected from its telescopes. A well implemented algorithm could be a fast substitute for the purely numeric spectra inversions that NSO currently uses.

We are looking forward to supporting the National Science Foundation in its research and use of Blanca HPC. If you are interested in learning more about Blanca, or any other Research Computing services, please visit our website at https://www.colorado.edu/rc/ or email us at rc-help@colorado.edu.