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Supercomputers Give ­niversities a Competitive Edge, Researchers Find

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Clemson's Palmetto cluster

Credit: Clemson University

Clemson University researchers found universities with locally available supercomputers are more efficient in producing research in critical fields than universities that do not have supercomputers. The research for the first time puts data behind the long-held assumption the United States is more competitive by investing in high-performance computing. The study was based on a National Research Council survey of 212 institutions, including 177 universities with high or very high research levels.

"For the nation, it is unequivocal that a high-performance computing system will provide an advantage in doing research in several fields," says Clemson researcher Amy Apon. The research will give policymakers data to consider as they decide whether supercomputers are economically feasible, she says.

"This is a critical first step in creating a model for evaluating investments in high-performance computing," says Clemson's Paul W. Wilson.

As part of the study, universities were divided into haves, which included institutions that had supercomputers in the Top500 list of leading systems, and have-nots, which were those that did not. "The study's results reaffirm that computing is centrally important to research and a wise investment that helps the nation maintain its competitive edge in science, engineering, and technology," says Clemson chief information officer Jim Bottum.

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