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April 29, 2002
Volume 80, Number 17
CENEAR 80 17 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347


Scientists will have access to new supercomputers in U.S. and Japan


The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has ordered a $24.5 million Linux-based supercomputer from Hewlett-Packard that will be available to researchers from national laboratories, academia, and industry.

Consisting of 1,400 next-generation Intel processors, code-named McKinley and Madison, the new supercomputer will have 1.8 terabytes of memory, 170 terabytes of disk space, and an expected peak performance of more than 8.3 teraflops (8.3 trillion floating-point operations per second) when it becomes fully operational in 2003. In other words, according to PNNL, it will be 30 times faster, have 50 times more disk space, and have 10 times as much memory as the lab's current supercomputer.

"The advanced architecture of the HP supercomputer provides the computational power that will permit us to attain close to peak performance on our key computational chemistry problems," explains David Dixon, associate director for theory, modeling, and simulation at the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), where the computer will be installed. It will help model complex chemical reactions in such diverse areas as biological systems, subsurface transport, materials design, atmospheric chemistry, and combustion.

By contrast, users of Japan's new Earth Simulator will focus on global environmental problems, simulating the effects of phenomena such as global warming, El Niño, atmospheric and marine pollution, and torrential rainfall.

The Unix-based Earth Simulator, built by NEC, consists of 640 nodes, each of which consists of eight vector processors, and has a peak performance capability of 40 teraflops, about five times faster than the PNNL supercomputer. The system, developed and paid for by the Japanese government, is installed at Yokohama Institute for Earth Sciences of the Japan Marine Science & Technology Center.

MAKING ROOM An HP supercomputer will be installed in the Molecular Science Computing Facility within EMSL, PNNL's newest user facility.


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Copyright © 2002 American Chemical Society

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