New supercomputing center will have major impact on Lab science, and vice versa

November 17, 1995

By Jeffery Kahn,

Berkeley Lab's scientific portfolio has been dramatically enriched with the addition of a new High-Performance Computing Access Center. Speaking at a special Nov. 9 town meeting in the Bldg. 50 auditorium, Lab Director Charles Shank said the new center places the Laboratory center stage in the global computing technology revolution.

"Science will drive what this center does," he said. "High energy physics, advanced materials, structural biology, chemical dynamics, environmental restoration, heavy ion fusion, combustion dynamics, energy efficiency -- there are synergies between each of these fields and this center.

"The type of experiments we want to do will define the future of supercomputing at this center," he said. "As we interact with new people, we will be able to piggyback on their capabilities and those provided by the new computing center. Ultimately, this will mean new scientific opportunities."

At the meeting, Shank introduced William McCurdy, announcing his intention to name McCurdy associate laboratory director for computing sciences. McCurdy has headed the Lawrence Livermore Lab's National Energy Research Supercomputing Center (NERSC), which will be moved here as a major component of the new center.

McCurdy congratulated the Berkeley Lab team responsible for bringing the center here, and agreed with Shank that it will have a major impact on scientific programs here.

"Yes," McCurdy said, "even when NERSC was at Livermore, you had access to its resources through the network. Now that it is moving here, you will be able to routinely interact directly with its staff, and they will be able to readily interact with you. The benefits of this should soon be apparent to all."

Shank said DOE decided to locate the center here for a range of reasons, including:

Shank credited ICSD Director Stu Loken, Deputy Sandy Merola, and Lab Deputy Director Pier Oddone for spearheading the effort to bring the new center here. He named Merola as McCurdy's deputy for computing sciences.

The center will have an approximate annual budget of $38 million and will involve about 100 new positions, Shank said. Of the total, $21 million will be devoted to NERSC, $2 million to a computational science program, $5 million to capital equipment, and $10 million to ESnet. ESnet links unique DOE facilities, including the supercomputer facility, to the DOE international community.