Alumnus a ‘Rock Star of HPC’

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The InsideHPC high-performance computing industry website recently interviewed a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship alumnus as part of its “Rock Stars of HPC” series.

James Phillips, a fellow from 1995 to 1999, is a research programmer in the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the lead developer of NAMD, a molecular dynamics code to simulate large biomolecular systems. The code is highly parallel and has run well on more than 500,000 computer processing cores.

In the interview, Phillips discussed how he got into computing, the influences on his career and other aspects of HPC. His biggest accomplishment, Phillips told the website, was the selection of NAMD as a target application for Blue Waters, the premier HPC system at the university’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Researchers quickly used the code to model the HIV capsid, the part of the AIDS virus containing genetic information it needs to replicate.

The interview appeared ahead of Phillips’ scheduled appearance at the GPU Technology Conference, a gathering to discuss the use of specialized graphics processing units in HPC. He will speak about molecular dynamics simulations on computers capable of more than a million trillion calculations per second.