Assistant professor David Whipp received an infrastructure grant from the Faculty of Science earlier this year to expand the geo-hpcc computer cluster in the Department of Geosciences and Geography, new hardware that was installed this week.

Big Memory for biG mountains

The expanded geo-hpcc computer cluster has 560 processor cores and over 6.5 terabytes of system memory, making it one of the most powerful high-memory computer clusters in Finland. The expansion will allow Assistant Prof. Whipp and the members of the Helsinki University Geodynamics Group (HUGG) to increase both the size and number of the numerical modelling experiments they use to study the largest mountains on Earth. One of the challenges the members of HUGG face in trying to understand the evolution of mountain systems like the Himalaya and Andes is their size and geometry. These mountain systems extend over thousands of kilometers and important features such as the location of major tectonic faults or the width of the mountains vary considerably along their length. This means that many parts of these mountain systems cannot be studied in two dimensions, thus requiring three-dimensional numerical models to properly capture their evolution. However, large three-dimensional numerical models require significant computing power, often running for days to weeks on hundreds of processors for a single numerical experiment. Assistant Prof. Whipp is hopeful that this powerful new computing resource will allow the members of HUGG to gain deeper insight into the fundamental physical processes involved in the deformation and evolution of the Earth's outermost rigid layer, the lithosphere. 

A resource for the whole university

Use of the geo-hpcc computer cluster is not limited to researchers in the Department of Geosciences and Geography, but is available to any researcher at the University of Helsinki who requires high-memory computing. Interested parties can contact Assistant Prof. Whipp directly to request access.