IBM SP used to model heart beats

720 pumping processors help fight disease

Researchers at Duke University's looking into heart disease are using simulations running on an IBM SP supercomputer, based on the same technology as ASCI White. The machine has 720 processors and is currently ranked as the 16th most powerful computer in the world.

The research team at the university's computational electrophysiology group will build a sophisticated model of the electric currents flowing through the heart and nerve tissue.

"Using the IBM SP, the Duke team of researchers can access the horsepower needed for our computationally intense heart modelling," said Dr John Pormann, a research associate at Duke University.

The vast processing power of the supercomputer enables simulations that allow real insight into the problems behind heart irregularities. "These simulations can help provide additional information that is difficult to obtain in the lab," he added.

The machine runs many simulations simultaneously on different processors, the results of which can then be compared against each other. The simulations can be incrementally increased in complexity as researchers investigate how various changes affect the function of the heart.

With heart disease being the leading cause of death in most of the Western world, the group's research could legitimately be called "vitally important." ®

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More information about the research can be found here.

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