Argonne National Laboratory has selected a 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene supercomputer to fuel innovation in a wide variety of scientific pursuits.
announced that the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory
will use IBM's next-generation Blue Gene supercomputer
enable advances in areas such as designing ultra-efficient electric car
batteries, understanding global climate change and exploring the evolution of
10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, named "Mira," will be operational in
2012 and available to scientists from industry, academia and government
research facilities around the world, said Dave Turek, vice president of Deep
Computing at IBM
, in an interview with eWEEK.
and supercomputing are critical to solving some of our greatest scientific
challenges, like advancing clean energy and understanding the Earth's
climate," Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing,
environment and life sciences at Argonne National Laboratory, said in a
statement. "Argonne's new IBM supercomputer will help address the critical
demand for complex modeling and simulation capabilities essential to improving
our economic prosperity and global competitiveness."
current supercomputer, Intrepid, is an IBM Blue Gene/P machine capable of
producing more than 500 trillion calculations a second. Mira will be 20 times
faster, running programs at 10 quadrillion calculations per second, or 10 petaflops
making it one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, Turek said. If every
man, woman and child in the United States performed one calculation each
second, it would take them almost a year to do as many calculations as Mira
will do in one second, IBM said.
Argonne Leadership Computing Facility is already working with potential users
as part of the "Early Science Program," which is designed to get researchers
working on the most effective ways to leverage the computer's power as soon as
it is installed.
Argonne and the
Department of Energy have selected 16 projects from a pool of proposals on
projects, ranging from reducing energy inefficiencies in transportation and
developing advanced engine designs to spurring advances in energy technologies.
The progress made during the Early Science Program should enable researchers to
leverage Mira's computational capability to reach its developers' science goals
soon after it is deployed.
In a press
release, IBM said Argonne anticipates that the new supercomputer will be one of
the fastest and most energy-efficient in the world, thanks to a
combination of innovative chip designs and extremely efficient water-cooling.
Last year, the Argonne
Leadership Computing Facility won an Estar (Environmental
Sustainability) award for the innovative energy-efficient cooling it designed
for its current system, and Argonne researchers anticipate that Mira will be
significantly more power-friendly, IBM said.
"This is a
major step forward by Argonne in terms of amplifying its compute capability,"
envisions Mira as a stepping stone to exascale-class computers that will be
faster than petascale-class computers by a factor of a thousand, IBM said.
Exascale computing has the potential to address a class of highly complex
workloads that have been beyond our reach, not just due to their sheer size,
but because of their inherent uncertainties and unpredictability-challenges
like understanding the impacts of regional climate change and the design of
safe nuclear reactors.
will offer an opportunity for scientists to become more familiar with the
capabilities an exascale machine will offer and the programming changes it will
require, Turek said. For example, scientists will have to scale their current
computer codes to more than 750,000 individual computing cores, providing them
preliminary experience on how scalability might be achieved on an
exascale-class system with hundreds of millions of cores.
Once Mira is
online, the Department of Energy's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on
Theory and Experiment and the Advanced Scientific Computing Research Leadership
Computing Challenge programs will award blocks of computing time via a
peer-reviewed, competitive process to researchers working on scientific challenges
best addressed by the capabilities of high-performance supercomputers.
This year, IBM
celebrates its Centennial, and Blue Gene is high on the company's list of
achievements. Blue Gene systems have helped map the human genome, investigate
medical therapies, safeguard nuclear arsenals, simulate radioactive decay,
replicate brainpower, fly airplanes, pinpoint tumors, predict climate trends
and identify fossil fuels. In 2009, President Obama recognized IBM and its Blue
Gene family of supercomputers with the National Medal of Technology and
The Blue Gene
system is part of a collaboration between Argonne, IBM and Lawrence Livermore
. Turek said the Blue Gene system going into the
Lawrence Livermore location will be a 20-petaflop machine, code-named
"Sequoia." Between the two Department of Energy facilities, there will be 30
petaflops of computing power when both systems are online, Turek said.
that the Blue Gene architecture is capable of supporting more than 50 petaflops
and upward of 100 petaflops of computing capacity. "It's a never-ending race
against the fundamental limits of physics," he said.
speed and expandability have enabled the computing industry and the scientific
community to address a range of complex problems and make more informed