Thursday, November 01, 2007

Now THAT'S a supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cray Inc. (NASDAQ: CRAY) today announced the successful completion of the acceptance test of one of the world's largest supercomputers. Installed at the DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), the powerful Cray XT4 (TM) system contains nearly 20,000 processor cores and has a top processing speed of more than 100 teraflops.

The next-generation supercomputer will be used to advance a broad range of scientific research. Named "Franklin" in honor of the first internationally recognized American scientist, Benjamin Franklin, the Cray XT4 system enables researchers to tackle the most challenging problems in science by conducting more frequent and increasingly detailed simulations and analyses of massive sets of data.

"With Franklin, we are increasing the computational power available to our 2,900 NERSC users by a factor of six, providing them with access to one of the world's fastest supercomputers dedicated to open scientific research," said Michael Strayer, associate director of DOE's Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, which funds NERSC. "We have high expectations that NERSC's proven track record of scientific productivity will provide many new discoveries and understandings."

The highly scalable Cray XT4 system is capable of running applications across a wide range of scientific disciplines, including astrophysics, fusion, climate change prediction, combustion, energy and biology. Franklin will enable researchers at Berkeley Lab to address such problems as developing better models of the Earth's climate and using it to predict the impact of carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. The powerful system will also allow researchers to explore clean energy technologies and validate theories that attempt to uncover evidence that explains the origin of the universe.

"Our new Cray XT4 system has demonstrated that it can deliver a high sustained performance on a demanding scientific workload in a rigorous production environment while at the same time permitting users to explore scaling to nearly 20,000 cores," said Horst Simon, director of the NERSC Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "We are particularly proud of the strong partnership between NERSC and Cray. Beginning more than a year ago, we jointly defined design requirements then tested and validated a Linux operating environment for Franklin and ultimately Cray's entire XT product line that will be available to our vast community of users. We were pleased to be part of such a landmark accomplishment -- the first true light-weight Linux kernel for HPC systems."

Franklin has a theoretical peak speed in excess of 100 teraflops (100 trillion floating point operations per second). In assessing proposed systems, the Cray XT4 scalable architecture promised to deliver high sustained performance, which is critical to NERSC's 24x7 operation to meet users' supercomputing demands.


Franklin contains 9,672 AMD dual-core Opteron(TM) 2.6 GHz processors with 39 terabytes of memory. Running on 16,384 processor cores, the group was able to complete the run in just 45 minutes.

Now I get to help care and feed it.

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