NERSC opts for $30 million upgrade

The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Centre has signed a $30 million contract with IBM to double the size of it’s 3,328-processor RS/6000 SP supercomputer.

The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing (NERSC) Centre has signed a contract with IBM to double the size of NERSC’s 3,328-processor RS/6000 SP supercomputer, creating a machine with a peak speed of 10 teraflop/s (10 trillion floating point operations per second).

The new contract, which includes five years of support for the combined system, is valued at about $30 million.

The agreement calls for new equipment to be installed in November 2002 with the 6,656-processor IBM system expected to become available to NERSC users by April 2003. This is said to be the largest number of processors ever to be made available on an open production system.

‘With the success of DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing program, NERSC is seeing an unprecedented level of requests for time on our systems. With this agreement, we have an almost-instant solution to this situation,’ said Horst Simon, director of the NERSC Centre at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

‘The 6,656 processors will give our user community an unprecedented opportunity to explore the scalability of their applications,’ added Simon. ‘With 10,000s of processors to be expected on petascale systems by the end of the decade, NERSC scientists will have an early start with this level of parallelism.’

NERSC is the flagship supercomputing centre for unclassified research sponsored by the US Office of Science in DOE. Currently, some 2,100 scientists use NERSC’s supercomputers to research problems in combustion, climate modelling, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry and computational biology.

The new system will include 7.8 terabytes of aggregate memory and a Global Parallel File System with 44 terabytes of storage. The system will be supported by NERSC’s High Performance Storage System (HPSS), which provides 2.5 petabytes of archival data storage capacity.