Machine Design

National Lab Researchers Get Near Petascale Computing Power

Upgrades to Oak Ridge National Lab's supercomputer have more than doubled its performance.

Upgrades to Oak Ridge National Lab's supercomputer have more than doubled its performance. The Jaguar system, a Cray XT4 at ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences, now uses more than 31,000 processing cores to deliver up to 263 trillion calculations a second (or 263 teraflops).

The upgrades put unprecedented computing power in the hands of scientists in the fields of materials, nano, combustion, and fusion science, as well as quantum chemistry, astrophysics, and climate science, says ORNL Director Thom Mason. "This upgrade is an essential step in bringing us ever closer to the era of petascale computing — systems capable of thousands of trillions of calculations per second.”

Climate scientists will be using the upgraded computer for calculating the potential consequences of greenhouse gas emissions and the potential benefits of limiting these emissions. Combustion scientists are modeling the most efficient designs for engines that use fossil and bio-based fuels. Fusion researchers, physicists, and material scientists will also use the computer to simulate important aspects of new reactor designs, discover new chemical catalysts, and in the design of new materials with predetermined properties.

With its new power, Jaguar will be able to double its contribution to DOE's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program, which is revolutionizing key areas of science by facilitating the world's most challenging computer simulations. The NCCS will host 30 Incite projects in 2008 from universities, private industry, and government research laboratories, contributing more than 140 million processor hours on Jaguar.

The Jaguar computer gives researcher a visualization of a core-collapse supernova.

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