Supercomputing Time Awards for Research to Increase Computational Capacity and Save Energy

  • Date: December 02, 2010
  • Source: Admin
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The U.S Department of Energy awarded 57 innovative research projects for supercomputing time. The research projects selected use computer simulations that are mostly non-viable or unfeasible in the natural world to perform virtual experiments. The research would use two of the best supercomputers with approximately 135,000 quad-core laptops equivalent computational capacity to provide assistance to multiple areas, for example, improve biofuel production, enhance medication efficacy in slowing Parkinson’s disease progression, and speedup development of more efficient solar cells.

Commercial research and academic research projects are included, in addition to affiliations with companies like Boeing and GE to develop superior wind turbines and jet engines using sophisticated computer modeling.

The Department has an exclusive award for time on two of the fastest and most powerful supercomputers in the world - the IBM Blue Gene/P ("Intrepid") at Argonne National Laboratory and the Cray XT5 ("Jaguar") at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Intrepid has computational capacity which is roughly equal to 26,000 laptops while Jaguar’s capacity is 109,000 laptops working together to solve the same problem.

Computer modeling and simulation is rapidly expanding. This is evident in the awards that include nearly 1.7 billion processor hours on the Department of Energy's advanced supercomputers. DOE National Laboratories has seen increasing expansion in supercomputing capabilities.


The Intrepid supercomputer will be employed by San Diego researchers to understand Parkinson’s disease and treatment. The team will study disease mutations and use their findings to identify methods to halt the progression of the disease.

The research team at the University of Utah will study packing arrangements of commercial explosives using the Jaguar supercomputer to prevent the occurrence of blasts of devices during transportation.

The clean and green prospects of hydrogen as an alternate fuel will be scrutinized by the Jaguar supercomputer to study hydrogen and its compounds. Hydrogen emits only oxygen and water when consumed, and is a practical fuel to use for heat and power production.

Supercomputing – an environmental responsibility

It is essential that supercomputers become energy efficient, not only to save money but to help the environment. IBM is one of the companies largely working towards reducing computer energy use rather than merely reduce its size.

The November 2010 Green500 rankings include the latest in the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputers. The top three computers are listed below:
  1. NNSA/SC Blue Gene/Q Prototype - IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
  2. HP ProLiant SL390s G7 Xeon 6C X5670, Nvidia GPU, Linux/Windows   - GSIC Center, Tokyo Institute of Technology    
  3. Hybrid Cluster Core i3 2.93Ghz Dual Core, NVIDIA C2050, Infiniband – NCSA

Two more of Japan’s supercomputers were in the top 10 of the Green500 List. U.S and China have more powerful supercomputers; however, Japan leads the way in energy-saving technology.


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