March 10, 2003
Berkeley Lab Research News
DOE's NERSC Center deploys 10 teraflops per second IBM supercomputer
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BERKELEY, CA   The National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, put its 10 teraflops-per-second (10 trillion calculations per second) IBM supercomputer into service last week, providing researchers across the country with the most powerful computer for unclassified research in the United States.

Image of NERSC IBMs
The most powerful unclassified supercomputers in the United States are in service at NERSC.

The IBM supercomputer, which comprises 6,656 processors, entered production a month ahead of schedule, meaning that the system will provide up to 4 million more processor hours of computing time in the current fiscal year. The NERSC Center, located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, serves more than 2,000 researchers at national laboratories and universities across the country.

In November, the NERSC Center announced that its next supercomputer to be deployed would be a doubling of its existing IBM, which then had 3,328 processors. By taking this cost-effective approach, the NERSC Center was able to more quickly meet the demands of its national user community and do it with a computer architecture they were already using.

"Our partnership with IBM continues to pay significant dividends for our users, who are taking advantage of the increase in computing power to analyze and simulate scientific problems of greater complexity and size," said NERSC Center Division Director Horst Simon. "With increasing demand for computing time from research groups in DOE's SciDAC program (Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing), being able to provide a much larger yet robust system is critical. This is a very cost-effective way to accelerate scientific discovery throughout DOE Office of Science research programs."

Before putting the expanded IBM into production on March 3, NERSC thoroughly tested it by running both scientific codes and benchmarking applications. The system was available more than 98 percent of the time during testing, and a NERSC Center team ran benchmarks that ran at 72 percent of peak speed, much higher than that achieved on similar parallel systems.

"IBM designs systems that are equally as at home running corporate databases as they are solving complex scientific problems," said Surjit Chana, IBM eServer pSeries vice president. "With the IBM supercomputing power, NERSC will have the scalability, speed, and performance to continue making strides in solving the most challenging problems."

Image of storage silo robot in NERSC's HPSS
One of the storage silo robots in NERSC's 8.8-petabyte High Performance Storage System (HPSS)

The new system will include 7.8 terabytes of aggregate memory and a Global Parallel File System with 44 terabytes of storage. The system will be supported by NERSC's High Performance Storage System (HPSS), which provides 8.8 petabytes of archival data storage capacity.

The NERSC Center is the flagship supercomputing center for unclassified research sponsored by the Office of Science in DOE. Currently, some 2,100 scientists use NERSC's supercomputers to research problems in combustion, climate modeling, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry and computational biology. Established in 1974, the NERSC Center has long been a leader in providing systems, services and expertise to advance computational science.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California.

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