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Supercomputer simulation aids solar energy research

Posted: 14 Jun 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:crystalline silicon  solar  simulation  semiconductor 

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Process Engineering (CAS-IPE) claim the use of Tianhe-1A that is said to be the world's fastest supercomputer, to run the highest performing molecular simulation on NVIDIA Tesla GPUs that was five times the performance and more than twice the size of the previous highest-performing molecular simulation.

The researchers say the simulation was used to examine improved techniques for more efficient production and use of crystalline silicon, a key material used in solar panels and the semiconductor industry.

The simulation modelled the behaviour of 110 billion atoms at an unprecedented 1.87petaflops of performance. The previous record for a simulation of this kind was 49 billion atoms at 369 teraflops of performance.

"Computer simulations are critical to the study of new materials and production methods as it can reveal far more details than experimental measurements, at much less cost," said Wenlai Huang, research associate at CAS-IPE. "The levels of performance we achieved by using all 7,168 NVIDIA GPUs in the Tianhe-1A supercomputer enabled us to run simulations that come closer than ever to reproducing the behaviour of the material in different aspects and its true bulk properties under different conditions, which are more meaningful for engineering and industrial purposes."

The Tianhe-1A is being used to explore the areas of oil exploration, drug discovery and weather modelling. Members of the CAS-IPE researchers will present their research at the GPU Tech Conference (GTC) in Beijing, China on December 15-16, 2011, and in San Jose, California, USA on May 14-17, 2012.

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