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     Dr.(Phys.)Dipl.-Ing.Ralf-Udo Hartmann

Super Computer Today

IBMHigh-performance computing leads to high-impact science

Quick: What's 1,327 times 4,922? Well, don't worry about it, but how long do you think it would take you to come up with 6,531,494? A minute? Five minutes? Fifteen? Argonne's new supercomputer, the IBM Blue Gene ® /P, can do that calculation, as well as another five hundred trillion or so, in a mere second.

I talk with ALCF Project Director of the IBM Blue Gene/P 64 Rack, Pete Beckman:

The Blue Gene/P, installed last fall in the new Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), is already one of the world's fastest super-computers. When its expansion is complete, the Blue Gene/P will perform at a speed of 556 trillion FLOPS (or floating point operations per second) and spearhead the move to what computer scientists call "petascale computing.”

Argonne's newly acquired access to petascale-capable hardware, combined with three decades' worth of accumulated scientific expertise, will accelerate high-impact science across the country and allow Argonne to continue its long history of cutting-edge research that broadens scientific horizons, said ALCF Project Director Pete Beckman.

Throughout this issue, you'll learn how the Blue Gene/P and Argonne's other advanced computing resources will transform research in myriad fields, from finding better catalysts to modeling nuclear reactors to enabling us to move around more safely, quickly and cheaply.
While the Blue Gene/P-equipped ALCF will be Argonne's fastest and most powerful supercomputing center, the laboratory also operates several other large computing clusters for specific scientific disciplines. Chief among these is the Nanoscience Computing Facility, a 10-teraflop system that has already enabled breakthrough research on particles less than 1/10,000th the width of a human hair. The system recently reached the 150th position on the TOP500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers.
The ALCF provides computational power for the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science to encourage and support intensive research projects from industry and scientific research organizations. According to Argonne Senior Computational Scientist Ray Bair, the Blue Gene/P dramatically increases the amount of computing power available to INCITE scientists and engineers. "Researchers can employ this new computing resource to attack cutting-edge problems in science and engineering at an unprecedented scale and speed,” he said.
The recent expansion of Argonne's computing facilities will provide scientists and engineers with a valuable complement to their laboratory research. By supplying scientists with the capability to construct detailed models and simulations of complex physical, chemical and biological processes, these computers will allow Argonne's experts to save time and expense while still achieving accurate and significant results.
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