NASA needs your help to speed up its supercomputer code
Feeling ambitious? If so, NASA’s got a challenge for you.
If you know how to program computers (otherwise this will be damn near impossible), the agency’s encouraging you to participate in the High Performance Fast Computing Challenge (HPFCC).
What the heck is that? Well, essentially, the NASA-sponsored competition will reward expert programers who are able to speed up the agency’s FUN3D design software.
FUN3D is used for solving nonlinear partial differential equations, and the challenge — which is being supported by NASA’s partners, HeroX and TopCoder — encourages computer whizzes to assist NASA in improving the code so that it can become compatible with some of the most advanced, fastest supercomputers in the world.
“This challenge is specifically targeted to speed up the CFD portion of our aerospace research,” said Michael Hetle, program executive for NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP). “Some concepts are just so complex, it’s difficult for even the fastest supercomputers to analyze these models in real time. Achieving a speed-up in this software by orders of magnitude hones the edge we need to advance our technology to the next level!”
The goal of the competition is to moderate the existing FUN3D algorithms so that they run 10 to 10,000 times faster on the Pleiades supercomputer. “This is the ultimate ‘geek’ dream assignment,” said Doug Rohn, director of TACP. “Helping NASA speed up its software to help advance our aviation research is a win-win for all.”
If this task sounds do-able, it should be noted that there are a few catches. For instance, once you speed up the software, there can’t be any decrease in accuracy.
The software is owned by the U.S. government and has strict export controls, which means it’s not available to anyone outside the country. It’s also written predominantly in Modern Fortran, a new version of an old programming language, which a lot of general computer programmers aren’t necessary pros at.
In addition to some serious bragging rights, first and second place finishers in two categories can win up to $55,000. Submissions are being accepted until 5 p.m. ET, June 29.