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Inaugural IBM Blue Gene/P system to expand Argonne Leadership Computing Facility


Argonne National Laboratory, IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science announced today that IBM will soon ship its first external Blue Gene/P system to the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). This state-of-the-art system will provide the computational science community with a leading computing capability dedicated to advancing knowledge and solving the most challenging scientific problems facing the nation, including predicting climate change or understanding complex biological systems.

“The Blue Gene/P and Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility will help accelerate innovation and revolutionize approaches to energy, environmental sustainability and global security challenges,” said Michael Strayer, Associate Director of DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

The addition of the Blue Gene/P system will expand the ALCF’s computing capability and provide DOE’s Leadership Computing Program with a 114-teraflops (114 trillion floating-point operations per second) production system for open science and engineering.

Blue Gene/P has a highly scalable torus network that can accommodate configurations with a petaflops of peak performance, as well as a high-performance collective network that minimizes the common bottleneck in simulations on large parallel computers.

The Blue Gene/P systems use lower power per teraflop than systems built around commodity microprocessors, resulting in greater energy efficiency and reduced operating costs.

Blue Gene applications use common languages and standards-based MPI communications tools, so a wide range of science and engineering applications are straightforward to port to the Blue Gene environment. Blue Gene/P is compatible with the diverse applications currently running on Blue Gene/L, including leading research in chemistry, combustion, astrophysics, genetics, materials science and turbulence.

The ALCF currently has a single-rack IBM Blue Gene/L system—the BG/L—the first in an IBM line that has the potential to reach petaflops capability by the end of this decade. IBM’s Blue Gene/P incorporates many improvements to the highly successful Blue Gene/L design, which currently holds the LINPACK benchmark record. Blue Gene/P moves to faster quad-core processors, while scaling up network performance to maintain the outstanding balance of the Blue Gene series.

The ALCF plans to install a Blue Gene/P production system with 32,768 processors in fall 2007, along with a test and development system with 4,096 processors. The bulk of the production system will be used by researchers with projects in DOE’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. This program seeks computationally intensive research projects and is open to industry and to all scientific researchers and research organizations. These projects can make high-impact scientific advances through the use of a large allocation of computer time, resources and data storage, enabling greater insight into challenging problems.

Since April 2004, Argonne and IBM have jointly sponsored the international Blue Gene Consortium, a group of laboratory, university and industrial researchers interested in the evaluation and use of the IBM Blue Gene family of high-performance computers. The ALCF Blue Gene system will allow for continued investigation of this unique technology.


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