SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS                                          HPCwire

  Oak Ridge, TENN. -- Recently acquired supercomputers from IBM and Compaq
have made Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) home to the most powerful
unclassified computers in the nation and are advancing its leadership role in
computational science.

  The recent expansion of the IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer pushes it past the
1 trillion calculations per second (1 teraflop) mark. It and the recently
acquired Compaq AlphaServer SC system now give ORNL more than 1.5 teraflops
computing speed. Later this year, the Compaq system is scheduled to be
upgraded to 900 billion calculations per second (900 gigaflops), further
enhancing ORNL's capabilities.

  "These new supercomputers allow researchers to solve problems in a virtual
environment in areas that span the globe - from transportation to medicine to
materials," said Thomas Zacharia, director of the Computer Science and
Mathematics Division. "The IBM and Compaq machines are allowing us to tackle
problems that couldn't be solved before."

  The IBM machine, acquired by the Department of Energy's ORNL a year ago, has
undergone two expansions  both ahead of schedule. The IBM computer is
dedicated to a range of computational science research. The Compaq machine
will be used primarily in the area of computer science, specifically for
developing better tools for computational science researchers.

  In coming months, researchers in the lab's Computer Science and Mathematics
Division will be collaborating with Compaq personnel to optimize the
large-scale research applications necessary to study global climate change,
computational biology, automobile safety, materials and numerous other areas.

  "The Compaq AlphaServer SC system provides significant computing power to
help ORNL meet the awesome research challenges they face today," said Bill
Blake, vice president of Compaq's high performance technology computing group.
"The advances in computational science enabled by this system and our
partnership with ORNL will lead to improved products and services that
positively impact people's lives every day."

  The IBM and Compaq provide DOE researchers with computing power more than 10
times what was offered by the Intel Paragon XP/S 150, which in 1995 was the
fastest computer in the world. Together, the computers make ORNL a major
resource for DOE's Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing program.

  "Our computing capabilities open possibilities for new research and for new
collaborations with universities, institutions and laboratories around the
world," Zacharia said.

  Powered by IBM-pioneered copper microprocessors, the RS/6000 SP accounts for
144 of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers. Organizations rely on the
SP to handle the wide spectrum of scientific applications as well as
commercial workloads.

  "The RS/6000 SP is the most powerful supercomputer in the world," said Peter
Ungaro, IBM vice president, Scientific and Technical Computing. "IBM's
superior technology and unmatched system architecture provide organizations
with the performance and scalability needed to solve the most challenging
scientific and commercial computing problems."

  As part of ORNL's simulation initiative, the supercomputers will help
researchers study structural materials by simulating their behavior in great
detail. It will allow for the development of new materials and new
manufacturing processes.

  "The increased computational power opens new possibilities for modeling of
complex systems, significant advances in computational biomechanics and its
close integration with more traditional engineering disciplines," said Srdan
Simunovic, a researcher in the Computer Science and Mathematics Division.

  In the area of climate modeling, ORNL's John Drake notes that historically
the best weather and climate predictions have been achieved at the centers
with the most powerful computers.

  "ORNL's emergence as the first terascale facility in the non-defense
research community allows our researchers to remain competitive and effective
in the international science community," Drake said. "The additional
computational capability makes possible detailed regional predictions and to
understand climate fluctuations, address impacts of climate variability and
quantify the uncertainty inherent in climate predictions."

  Similarly, the increased computing capabilities should help in the area of
computational biology.

  "With the imminent release of the completed draft human genome DNA
sequences, this increased computing capability is critical," said Phil
LoCascio of ORNL's Life Sciences Division. "This allows DOE and ORNL to
maintain worldwide leadership in computational genome analysis."

  Ultimately, this research will help in the screening, treatment and cure of
many diseases. Other areas expected to benefit greatly include computational
chemistry and physics.

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URL http://www.csm.ornl.gov/PR/HPC6-23-00.html
Updated: Tuesday, 12-Sep-2000 10:28:45 EDT