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University of Florida

Supercomputer HiPerGator helps to address agricultural and environmental problems

A supercomputer at the University of Florida is being used by researchers at multiple state universities to address some of Florida’s toughest agricultural and environmental problems.

The computer is known as HiPerGator. It went live in early 2021 and is the 22nd-fastest supercomputer in the world. The $50 million supercomputer was a gift to the university from NVIDIA, a Silicon Valley-based tech firm, and company co-founder Chris Malachowsky, a University of Florida graduate. Researchers at other universities receive access to use the computer’s capabilities.

David Norton, vice president for research at UF, explains that HiPerGator can be used to mitigate citrus greening: “We set a record low in boxes of oranges [produced] this past year. Critically important to that is understanding what is the inventory of our citrus crops, groves, trees in the state of Florida — their age, their health.”

Norton said a company launched by the university can fly drones over citrus groves to take photographic inventories of the trees. Another university-launched company can capture satellite images of the entire state citrus crop “to understand where trees are struggling and what our inventory is,” he said. The supercomputer is then used to process and make sense of the images.

About 120 university users, not based at UF, have already accessed HiPerGator.


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