IBM, Brown Build Largest Supercomputer in R.I.

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2009-11-20 Print this article Print

The IBM supercomputer at Brown University is 50 times more powerful, six times more energy efficient and can hold 70 times more memory than the system it's replacing. Researchers and scientists across the region will have access to the supercomputer, which will have a peak performance of more than 14 teraflops. The supercomputer includes IBM's iDataPlex and holds 1,440 microprocessors. The Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, Mass., will be one of the first users.

IBM has built a multimillion-dollar supercomputer at Brown University in Rhode Island that will help researchers there and throughout the region tackle a host of computational projects. The center opened Nov. 20.

The supercomputer at the Providence, R.I., university's Center for Computation and Visualization will run at a peak performance of more than 14 teraflops-or trillion floating -oint calculations per second-and is 50 times more powerful than the system it's replacing, according to IBM and Brown officials.

The supercomputer will be a boon for research not only at the university but across the region, according to Brown officials. The university and IBM plan to work with other schools, hospitals, businesses and government agencies across Rhode Island in determining how best to use the supercomputer.

They also will conduct a series of symposia that will involve scientific experts considering how the system can be used to address societal problems in the state.

Click here to read about how IBM is getting closer to creating a computer that acts like a human brain.

"Combined, the supercomputer and the symposia allow us to begin to tackle our state's most sobering challenges, thus allowing for economic growth and stability through productivity, innovation and competitiveness," Clyde Briant, vice president for research at Brown, said in a statement.

Among the first users will be scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

"This new system will help scientists make our world smarter, through the ability to address problems that are orders of magnitude larger than what they could address just a few short years ago-from mapping the human genome to helping figure out how to cut down on carbon emissions to helping ensure our waters and food are safe and sustainable," Nick Bowen, vice president of technology at IBM, said in a statement.

The supercomputer comes with 1,440 microprocessors and is based on three IBM iDataPlex systems, which combined are about the size of six refrigerators, according to IBM officials. Also includes in the system is an IBM Cluster 1350 and multiple IBM storage systems running General Parallel File System.

Support comes from IBM Global Services.

In all, the system has 390TB of storage and holds 4.5TB of memory-about 70 times what Brown's previous system could hold-and researchers can now compute a problem that is 20 times larger in the same time frame.

In addition, the backbone network jumps from 1G bit to 10, and the supercomputer is six times more efficient that what had been at the school previously.


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