1/2010

Would a supercomputer have tackled the recession?

Rainer Wehkamp

Techila Technologies received the INNOFINLAND Award from
the President of the Republic Tarja Halonen in late 2009.

An award-winning invention from Tampere milks PC's for all they're worth. The innovation can be applied to a variety of fields, ranging from finances to particle physics.

The financial crisis was already brewing during the economic boom. According to Rainer Wehkamp, the CEO of Techila Technologies from Tampere, inadequate risk management was one of the key causes of the global credit crunch. Financial companies tend to have limited computer resources to carry out internal risk management, which is largely heavy computation.

Specialist teams within financial enterprises create computational models to manage risks and maximize profitability.

"Those who develop the applications with the most computational power and are thus able to make computations faster than anyone else, will often yield the best profits, for example, in the complex derivative market."

Power waiting to be harnessed

The need for heavy computation in companies and the scientific world is increasing in step with investments in supercomputers. Rainer Wehkamp says that companies can reap the benefits of high-performance computing without multi-million investments by harnessing the idle computing power of existing PC's.

Techila Grid

  • A virtual supercomputer developed by Techila Technologies Ltd that harnesses the idle computational power within a company's IT infrastructure. It can significantly speed up computation required in research, product development and business, such as modelling, simulation, optimization, and data analyses.
  • Consists of two main components: a Linux-based IBM System X Techila Grid server and Java middleware installed on computers that have idle capacity. These computers are installed with the help of centralized administration software.
  • The solution supports Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix.
  • The computational power increases automatically as the existing IT infrastructure is upgraded. The solution is easy to use and does not require users to change their customary methods of operation.
  • Measured in terms of required investments and life cycle costs, Techila Grid is an affordable alternative to a server that offers the same computational capacity.

This can be accomplished with a solution developed by Techila Technologies Ltd. Techila's grid-based, decentralized computation system identifies idle computer capacity within a company intranet and takes it into use. In late 2009, the company received the INNOFINLAND Award from the President of the Republic of Finland.

The founders of Techila Technologies, CEO Rainer Wehkamp and Director, R&D Teppo Tammisto, have studied at the Department of Software Systems of TUT and developed their innovation and business idea at TUT's business hatchery. The University also piloted their solution in 2006.

Now TUT's researchers are using the Techila Grid solution. Around a thousand PC's are connected to the network. Professor Ulla Ruotsalainen from the Department of Signal Processing recognized the advantages of the solution straight away.

"It is easier to solve certain problems directly the more computational power is available. Now the performance limits are not easily met and we can reduce the load on our computer clusters."

Ulla Ruotsalainen

Ulla Ruotsalainen says that the
implementation of
the Grid has significantly
speeded up  research.

Techila sets its sights on the global market

The work of the M2oBSI (Methods and Models for Biological Signals and Images) research team headed by Ulla Ruotsalainen centres on brain and cancer research. The team is developing solutions for the automatic analysis of a series of biological and medical images. The optimization of the vast number of parameters needed in the research requires massive computational power.

"We used to wait for some intermediate results for as long as two weeks, but now we they are ready in a matter of days. We can see whether our presumptions are correct or not and the fast progress motivates researchers. And of course we are also able to publish the results more quickly."

The research team is striving to create a new method for the health care sector to determine the malignancy of tumours and identify how a patient is responding to the treatment.

Techila Technologies, on the other hand, hopes to penetrate the global market. All Finnish universities of technology, the University of Helsinki and Prague University of Economics are already using Techila's innovation. The European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN has also recognized the benefits of the solution and the two organisations are currently strengthening their collaboration. In addition, several Finnish finance companies are utilizing Techila Grid.

"Our objective is to become the global market leader in grid technology", says Rainer Wehkamp.

Text: Aila Välikoski
Photo: Auvo Mäkinen

 

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