What is eResearch?
eResearch is the use of advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) in research practice, including collaboration, computing (such as high-performance computing), visualisation, research data management, and other tools. eResearch has allowed researchers to become more innovative, accelerate research, and improve research collaborations.

What is High-Performance Computing (HPC)?
A HPC system is a collection (cluster) of computers connected together through a fast computer network. A HPC enables researchers to use multiple computers together, to solve a computational problem. This system also allows a researcher to solve a large analysis on a remote system, freeing up the researcher's computer for other operations. The HPC is used to perform massive computer simulations or calculations in a timely manner, which is virtually impossible to perform on a single desktop computer.

Who uses the HPC?
The HPC unit has over 300 researcher accounts from 30 different departments. Most of the departments fall under the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, but there are also users from the Faculty of Health Sciences and, in 2018, the first researcher from the Faculty of Humanities started using the HPC.

The impact of using the HPC
An example of the impact that the HPC can have on research is a research group consisting of researchers from the Humanities (Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French) collaborating with researchers in the Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Sciences. A quantitative approach to language comparison was suggested. In the study, the researchers had to perform 13 different statistical analysis on 195 different languages (over 8 billion words). The principal investigator could have done these analysis on her computer, but it would have taken an estimated 54 days, during which time she would not have been able to use her computer effectively and most likely would have suffered interruptions (such as load shedding). After modifying a small portion of her statistical analysis and running it on the HPC, she was able to retrieve the initial results within eight hours.

Statistics for 2019
The HPC performed 7 603 169 (867y 343d 15h:59) CPU hours in 2019. This means that if all the calculations were performed on a single computer, with a single CPU, it would take over 867 years to complete the same calculations that were performed on the HPC in 2019.

Read more about the HPC's services, computational capacity, and software available on the system, or contact the HPC for more information.

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