UMass Dartmouth's novel supercomputer tops the well-known RC5 cryptography challenge list.
The RC5 cryptography challenge (Wikipedia
) was originally started by RSA Laboratories as a worldwide contest to decode a cipher by finding the secret cryptographic key using a brute-force approach. The 72-bit version of the same contest continues today, conducted by distributed.net -- one of the oldest open public distributed computing projects on the internet.
Professor Gaurav Khanna of the Physics Department and associate director of the Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research (CSCVR), and computer technician Glenn Volkema, have built a novel supercomputer using consumer video-gaming components (over a hundred Sony PlayStations and multiple AMD Radeon graphics-cards) that has enabled the campus' rank to soar to the absolute top of the RC5-72 contest participant list (link
This unique system is generating approximately 50 billion keys per second and is slated to have a 1 in 10 chance for winning the contest all by itself!
The supercomputer has been built to study various astrophysical problems associated to binary black hole systems and gravitational radiation. Physics Department graduate students, Tyler Spilhaus and William Duff are already utilizing the system extensively for their research projects in this context. In addition, Computer and Information Science major, Violet Pfeiffer will be using the system to study different aspects of cryptography and cybersecurity.