NASA Spinoff

Software Innovations Speed Scientific Computing

Over the past 5 years, government contracts and products including FastDL and GPULib have helped the company to double its number of headquarters employees to 70. Commercially available for 6 years, FastDL has earned about $90,000 in revenue for Tech-X. GPULib, available for 2 years, has earned about $100,000 in revenue.

Messmer says that what makes these products so unique is that they target IDL, which is widely used by engineers, scientists, analysts, and other technical professionals in satellite, medical, and astrophysical imaging.

Using FastDL, scientists and developers can run IDL visualization and analyses applications using several computers at once to shorten the time required to get results. Because not every visualization and analysis problem can be solved using the same parallel computing paradigm, FastDL includes two components: TaskDL (for independent computations) and mpiDL (for interdependent computations).

The other NASA-derived product, GPULib, supplies a mathematical library that simplifies access to parallel computing on a GPU. It brings high-performance numerical operations to everyday desktop computers with an easyto- use interface. According to Tech-X, the time it takes for implementations of common mathematical operations is 5–40 times faster using the technology.

Available under two licensing arrangements, Messmer says there have been close to 10,000 downloads of GPULib from Tech-X’s website.

Scientists in a variety of fields can benefit from the increased execution speed allowed by GPULib in application areas such as structural and fluid mechanics, Earth sciences, biosciences, medical and diagnostic imaging, and financial engineering. Current applications for simulation and modeling include computational fluid dynamics, tsunami modeling, galaxy formation, and neural-tissue simulations. In data analysis, applications include image enhancement, deblurring, real-time image processing, hyperspectral imaging, astronomical imaging, medical imaging, and seismic data processing.

At the Department of Radiation Oncology at Loyola University in Maywood, Illinois, the software is used for aligning patients on a treatment table before and after X-ray imaging, a computationally-demanding application that needs to be performed quickly. John Roeske, Director of Radiation Physics at the university, says, “Ordinarily, the approach would take 5–10 seconds. Using the GPULib we feel we can get the alignment to better than a second.”

Alongside medical imaging, Tech-X is focusing on providing custom products for applications in remote sensing and gaming. “The future as we see it is to provide domain-specific programs for different applications,” says Messmer.

What will come next? And what are the impacts on processing speed?

These are some of the top questions that Tech-X is seeking answers to through additional SBIRs with NASA to reveal more about Earth and the universe.