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Harrisburg University supercomputer can tackle the workload of hundreds of regular computers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Supercomputers are being called the technology of the future. Harrisburg University now has one of its own. 

Experts say supercomputers are the frontier in computer technology. It took nearly three years, but Harrisburg University engineers built one for students and faculty.

"They're able to use that to conduct and process any assignment they have in their classes or if they just want to do research," said Ron Jones, a computer information sciences instructor at Harrisburg University. 

Think of a supercomputer like the cloud: it's a virtual environment that connects to other devices, like your laptop or phone.

Meanwhile, the machine tackles the workload of hundreds, maybe thousands of regular computers at once.

It completes processes, dives through data and solves problems quickly.

"This is what Amazon is using for customer behavior and predicting things," said Majid Shaalan, who is the head of computer science at Harrisburg University.

Harrisburg University's supercomputer is powered by 68 servers.

Students have begun research projects, including using the machine to comb through data to save criminal investigators time. 

"Without it, nobody can do all of these fancy visualizations, all of these facial analysis and recognition," said Shaalan.

The school has a thriving Esports program, and professors are excited for students to use the machine to create video games.

Still, supercomputers aren't for the average consumer. 

"Penn State has a super computer," said Jones. "Typically what happens when you start talking about supercomputers, you start talking about Carnegie Mellon or some research facility the government has."

But Jones thinks computers as we know them will be changing in the next decade, and will be connected to supercomputers.

"Your device is simply going to be a displaying device," said Jones. "You're going to have the communications or processing power back at some facility which is Google or Amazon or whoever."

A staff of ten manage the lab where the machine sits.


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