NASA wants YOU (to make its Fortran code run faster)
NASA has teamed up with two technology crowdsourcing organizations in an effort to put some of its supercomputer code into afterburner mode. In an announcement on May 2, the director of NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP) launched the High Performance Fast Computing Challenge, an effort to accelerate NASA’s Modern Fortran-based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, FUN3D.
In the NASA announcement, NASA TACP Director Dough Rohn called the challenge “the ultimate ‘geek’ dream assignment.” Launched in a partnership with HeroX and Topcoder, the competition gives any US citizen 18 or older a shot at tweaking FUN3D’s Fortran code. NASA is looking specifically for skilled programmers to download the FUN3D code, analyze its performance bottlenecks, and “identify possible modifications that might lead to reducing overall computational time.”
TACP is a program seeking to create revolutionary new aircraft technologies to advance the future of aviation. CFD software helps analyze the aerodynamics of new concepts before they’re taken to the wind tunnel model stage. Michael Hetle, TACP program executive, noted in the NASA announcement, “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!”