AMD (Advanced Micro Devices, Inc) is an American multinational semiconductor company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. AMD makes microprocessors, flash memory, integrated circuits, and programmable logic devices. The second-largest supplier in the market for x86-based microprocessors, AMD has recently released the Ryzen™ Threadripper™ processor, their flagship brand of CPUs (central processing units) and APUs (accelerated processing units). Ryzen is the first consumer-level processor using the new Zen architecture, which offers strong multi-threaded performance.
AMD + 42
AMD provided 42 Silicon Valley with a Ryzen PRO processor system and Radeon Pro Duo graphics card to help simulate the expansion of the universe for the J-Gravity educational project. When you want to simulate the expansion of the universe using the Barnes-Hut algorithm you need teraflops. Teraflops are one million million operations per second, of computing power.
We sat down with Kwame Yamgnane, Co-founder and Managing Director of 42. He explained, “42 students started the project and they had no idea what type of issues they would run into. This project was built from scratch. Not necessarily to have the best simulation of the universe but for students to learn from it. 42 knew this was a massive and complex project. But its purpose is to encourage students to learn from the simulation process, study the operational capacity of our computers, and become familiar with the technology necessary for the J-Gravity project to be successful.”
42’s Need for Speed
The iMacs at 42 already use AMD hardware. So the students decided to start the project utilizing their desktop GPUs (graphic processing units). They started to code, run preliminary simulations, and iteratively optimize their algorithms. But they soon experienced a bottleneck in computing resources. To perform larger, more computationally intensive simulations, they used a cluster of hundreds of computers to parse out large operations to individual machines. They had an incredible amount of data to transfer between computers and the work was not fast enough due to fundamental hardware limitations. Our students reached the limitations of their hardware. So they had to focus on optimizing their code to be more efficient.
Disruptive Engineering Education
42 reached out to AMD and explained the students’ new algorithm and need for a new processor. To empower 42’s students, AMD sent the powerful Ryzen PRO before it was released. This enabled the students to use up to 8 GPUs on a single machine. This new hardware significantly expands the computational resources at 42 and disrupts traditional engineering education. Quickening the pace of learning and innovation, 42‘s collaboration with AMD elevates this complex student project to another level.
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