In April 2000,
ORNL became home to the most powerful unclassified computers in the
nation, making it one of the most powerful unclassified scientific computing
facilities in the world. The IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer was expanded,
and a new Compaq AlphaServer SC system was installed. The two supercomputers
can operate at a theoretical speed of 1.5 teraflops, or more than a
trillion calculations per second. That's 10 times the computational
speed of ORNL's recently dismantled Intel Paragon, which was the fastest
supercomputer in the world in early 1995.
Worley works at the Compaq Alphaserver Colt computer.
The IBM supercomputer
(Eagle), which was purchased and installed in 1999, originally operated
at 100 gigaflops and then 400 gigaflops, less than half a teraflop.
It now can operate at more than 1 teraflop. The recently acquired Compaq
Alphaserver supercomputer (Falcon) can operate at half a teraflop; it
will soon be upgraded to almost a teraflop. While the IBM supercomputer
is dedicated to a range of computational science, the Compaq machine
will be used to develop better computational tools for researchers.
The ORNL terascale computing
facility was dedicated on June 20, 2000. The keynote speaker was Ernie
Moniz, Department of Energy undersecretary, who called ORNL's supercomputers
"extraordinary tools for extraordinary science." He noted that "simulation
using teraflop computers will be a tool of scientific discovery. Simulation
will play an important role in the bridging from the molecular level
to engineering systems to get the needed efficiencies" to solve energy
and environmental problems. In the ceremony's "virtual ribbon cutting"
Moniz sheared a digital ribbon with digital scissors by clicking a mouse.
Dever, manager of DOE's Oak Ridge Operations; Ernie Moniz, DOE
undersecretary; Thomas Zacharia, director of ORNL's Computer Science
and Mathematics Division, Bill Madia, ORNL director; and Jim Roberto,
ORNL associate director for Physical and Computational Sciences,
participated in the June 20, 2000, dedication of two new supercomputers
"This marks a
significant milestone for us," said Thomas Zacharia, director of ORNLís
Computer Science and Mathematics Division. "These computers allow us
the unique opportunity to push forward in our science and technol-ogy
agenda at the Laboratory."
"The machine can
work on many pieces of a problem at once," said David McQueeney, vice
president of IBM Communication Technology, who noted that the IBM RS/6000
SP at ORNL ranks 11th among the world's top 500 supercomputers. McQueeney
also announced the creation of an IBM postdoctoral fellowship in terascale
computing for ORNL.
In addition to
its supercomputing capabilities, ORNL also offers 360 terabytes of data
storage for the two large parallel computers, using a version of IBM's
High-Performance Storage System that ORNL researchers helped develop.
The 184-node Eagle has 372 gigabytes of memory and 9.2 terabytes of
local storage, and the 80-node Falcon has 160 gigabytes of memory and
5.5 terabytes of local storage.
will play an increasing role in scientific research, Zacharia believes.
The development of new algorithms by ORNL computer scientists will allow
the Laboratory's powerful computers to solve more complex scientific
problems through simulations of experiments (see the "Breaking a Record
for Analysis of Atomd" article). "High-performance computing is needed
to meet DOE objectives," he says. "It has become a crucial tool for
scientific discovery in climate prediction, bioinformatics, and materials
research, as well as many other areas."
challenge will be to predict changes in the future global climate as
greenhouse gas levels rise. Computing at ORNL will be used to predict
changes in the regional climate in the Southeast, based on results of
global scenarios. For example, scientists will try to predict whether
in the next few decades East Tennessee will have more droughts, North
Carolina will have more hurricanes, and Florida will have greater coastal
flooding than in the recent past.
the computational biosciences are using ORNL supercomputers for bioinformatics.
Relying on information from the Human Genome Project, they are locating
and discovering genes in DNA sequences, predicting the structure of
proteins encoded by specific genes, and estimating gene functions. The
DNA sequences they will be analyzing computationally include human chromosomes
19, 16, and 5. Draft sequences of these chromosomes have already been
produced by DOE's Joint Genome Institute, of which ORNL is a part. The
new information on genes and gene functions could lead to the development
of more effective disease-fighting drugs.
will use supercomputers to simulate collisions between future cars,
which will be made of advanced lightweight materials and designed to
burn fuel more efficiently and cleanly. The idea behind these calculations
is to determine whether these cars will hold up during crashes as well
as do the heavier steel cars of today. These and trillions of other
numbers will be crunched at ORNLone of the world's most powerful
unclassified computing facilities.
Computer Science and Mathematics Division