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1.7 billion supercomputer hours awarded to 57 research projects


December 2, 2010

The IBM Blue Gene/P ("Intrepid") supercomputer (Photo: Argonne National Laboratory)

The IBM Blue Gene/P ("Intrepid") supercomputer (Photo: Argonne National Laboratory)

There’s a lot of scientific research projects out there that could produce some interesting results, if only they had access to a supercomputer. With that in mind, this week the US Department of Energy (DoE) announced that it has awarded 57 deserving projects with a total of almost 1.7 billion processor hours on two of its (and the world’s) most powerful computers. It’s part of the DoE’s cleverly-acronymed Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program, the aim is of which is primarily “to further renewable energy solutions and understand of the environmental impacts of energy use.” That said, the program is open to all scientists in need of heavy-duty data crunching.

The computers that will be doing the work are the Cray XT5 ("Jaguar") at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the IBM Blue Gene/P ("Intrepid") at Argonne National Laboratory. Jaguar’s capacity is described as being roughly equivalent to 109,000 laptops all working together to solve the same problem, while Intrepid’s is more in the neighborhood of 26,000.

The winning INCITE projects were selected in a peer review process, and evaluated for computational readiness. According to the DoE, “Selected projects were chosen for their potential to advance scientific discoveries, speed technological innovations, and strengthen industrial competitiveness and for their ability to make use of hundreds of thousands of processors to work in concert to do so.”

The projects, which span everything from treating Parkinson’s Disease to simulating earthquakes to better understanding lithium/air batteries, can be seen on a DoE PDF.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

News update: the most powerful computer: 2010 Tianhe-IA 2.507 PFLOPS National Supercomputing Center, Tianjin, China as of november 2010 See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercomputer

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See also various distributed computing projects such as World Community Grid. Over one billion results returned. https://secure.worldcommunitygrid.org/index.jsp

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