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.NET News: NNSA Announces New Mark for World's Fastest Supercomputer

Sustained Performance of 207.3 Trillion Floating-Point Operations per Second

Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and IBM have teamed up to announce that a new mark was achieved on the world's fastest supercomputer named BlueGene/L (BG/L). This world record for a scientific application was set by achieving a sustained performance of 207.3 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraFLOPS) on the "Qbox" computer code for conducting materials science simulations critical to national security.

BG/L is an IBM supercomputer housed at NNSA's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and is ranked as the world's fastest supercomputer by the Top500 (www.top500.org). It is used to conduct materials science simulations for NNSA's Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program, which unites the scientific computing know-how of NNSA's Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories. The computer simulation capabilities developed by the ASC program provide the nuclear weapons analysis that NNSA needs to keep the nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure and reliable without underground nuclear testing.

"This is an important step on the path to performing predictive simulations of nuclear weapons, and these simulations are vital to ensuring the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons stockpile. These results further confirm that BlueGene/L's architecture can scale with real-world applications. The performance of the Qbox code was made possible by the partnership with our IBM collaborators, who helped to optimize the code's performance on BG/L's 131,072 processors," said Dimitri Kusnezov, head of NNSA's ASC Program.

The performance improvement over previous efforts was due in large measure to new mathematical libraries developed by software researchers at IBM that take best advantage of BG/L's dual-core architecture.

"Today's results represent the first time in history that a scientific code has sustained a level of performance in excess of 200 teraFLOPS, breaking the former record also set on Blue Gene at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory," said David Turek, vice president of Deep Computing at IBM. "Only through collaborative innovation such as through our partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory can the boundaries of computing be pushed as far as they've been today. We will continue to work together, pushing the boundaries of insight and invention to advance our shared mission in ways never before possible."

Qbox is a first-principles molecular dynamics (FPMD) code, designed to predict the properties of metals under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure - a longstanding goal for researchers in materials science and high energy-density physics. FPMD codes are used for complex simulations at the atomic level in a number of scientific areas, including metallurgy, solid-state physics, chemistry, biology and nanotechnology.

The "Q" in Qbox is for "quantum," a reference to the quantum mechanical descriptions of electrons that are the principal focus of this type of simulation code. The ability to accurately model changes to the electronic structure of atoms distinguishes FPMD codes from classical molecular dynamics codes.

The three-dimensional code run, studying how molybdenum (a transition metal) atoms behave under pressure, represents one of only a handful of "predictive science" simulations achieving this size: 1,000 molybdenum atoms. While classical molecular dynamics calculations are frequently run with billions of atoms because the interactions between the atoms are relatively easily computed, routine quantum runs, which are both very complex and accurate, have been restricted to around 50 atoms until now. The difference between 50 and a 1000 makes the difference between being able to explore new classes of chemical systems using first-principles methods, including heterogeneous environments (considering interactions between unlike molecules) and extreme chemistry (including shocks). Such a step is important to NNSA's stockpile stewardship program, and also has important implications for biological systems, including the study of proteins.

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.NETDJ News Desk monitors Microsoft .NET and its related technologies, including Silverlight, to present IT professionals with news, updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards, and insight.

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.NETDJ News Desk 06/23/06 09:13:58 AM EDT

Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and IBM have teamed up to announce that a new mark was achieved on the world's fastest supercomputer named BlueGene/L (BG/L). This world record for a scientific application was set by achieving a sustained performance of 207.3 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraFLOPS) on the 'Qbox' computer code for conducting materials science simulations critical to national security.

.NETDJ News Desk 06/23/06 08:04:13 AM EDT

Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and IBM have teamed up to announce that a new mark was achieved on the world's fastest supercomputer named BlueGene/L (BG/L). This world record for a scientific application was set by achieving a sustained performance of 207.3 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraFLOPS) on the 'Qbox' computer code for conducting materials science simulations critical to national security.

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