UQ to roll out super computer

6 October 2014

The University of Queensland is one step closer to developing better mobile phone battery life, understanding the engineering of vaccines, and creating stem cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease.
The university’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) has bought a $275,000 high-performance parallel computer cluster that will support research stretching from the development of advanced materials for clean fuel, through to the engineering of new vaccines to develop anti-cancer drugs.

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Centre for Theoretical and Computational Molecular Science Director Professor Debra Bernhardt said the new computer would focus on computational speed.
“The facility will be more efficient, providing more processing power and working over a fast network, which will enable researchers to work with more realistic models,” Professor Bernhardt said.
“The computer has a new type of co-processor, providing faster and more energy efficient performance.
“Another advantage is that it works with traditional programming languages, making it easily accessible to researchers. The computational power is well beyond the current capabilities of a traditional PC.”
AIBN researcher Dr Marlies Hankel said she would use the computer to model materials in lithium ion batteries.
“We hope to understand the mechanisms of charging and recharging batteries used in mobile phones and laptops, and aid the design of safer batteries and with longer life times,” Dr Hankel said.
A UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure grant and a National Health and Medical Research Council Equipment Grant totalling $275,572 funded the super computer.
It will be used by UQ’s Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology for research in computational modelling of physical, pharmaceutical and biological systems, and will host the AIBN’s stem cell collaboration platform, Stemformatics.org.
The computer cluster will aid in visualising genes for stem cell research, potentially leading to the development of therapies for a range of medical problems such as Parkinson’s disease and heart attacks.

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