The ECE-HPC essentially is a platform of powerful computing resources for UW engineering professors and their students to plan, design and develop projects that can have a lasting real-world impact.
"Part of what we're doing is enabling this cluster process for electrical engineering," says
"We can take that computer cluster and customize it to do all kinds of jobs that you just can't do on
The ECE cluster, located in a small corner room on the fifth floor of the
Because the cluster uses graphics processing units (GPU), it can handle operations much faster than one using central processing units or CPUs, says Suresh Muknahallipatna, a UW professor of electrical and computer engineering.
For example, a model that demonstrates radio waves striking a car antenna would take 3.5 hours to run using CPUs. With GPUs, the process takes a scant 8 seconds, Muknahallipatna says. A model of
"We can do these operations in a matter of minutes, rather than hours and days," Muknahallipatna says.
And that's necessary, considering the number of applications in the works for the cluster.
Robots to the rescue
One application involves using small, mobile robots to go into dangerous areas, such as a building fire or a military zone, to assess an area before first responders enter.
"We're planning how you would use robots to patrol and look for fires, what the robot can see and what obstacles are in the way," McInroy says. "It's a planning problem. You end up turning it into a problem for optimization."
"We want to provide a robot with the ability to have situational awareness," Hamann adds. "We want it to be intelligent enough to make decisions regarding where it's safe and not safe to travel."
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