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IBM Donates Supercomputer Resources

IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory said they will provide significant enhancements to the computer capabilities available to scientific researchers around the world.

IBM and Argonne have agreed to augment Argonne's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) computer capacity with compute cycles on IBM's Blue Gene "BGW" supercomputer system at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

Argonne already planned to offer 10 percent of its computing cycles to researchers via the Blue Gene/L, ranked as the world's fastest computer.. With the latest announcement IBM will offer an additional five percent of computer time on its BGW supercomputer, ranked second fastest.

"What we're really talking about about is over 1 million CPU hours over the course of a year, running 24 x 7, minus maintenance and upgrades," Herb Schultz, a Blue Gene manager at IBM, told internetnews.com. "Depending on the project, the workload could take 10 racks at a time. We're trying to learn what these kinds of applications are all about, so it's a good exercise for us." Each of the twenty racks at the IBM facility has 2,048 CPUs.

TWhen completed this fall, Blue Gene/L should approach top processing speeds of 360 teraflops , courtesy of a 64-rack system with over 130,000 IBM PowerPC processors.

The other IBM Blue Gene system, nicknamed "BGW." BGW has been rated as the second-fastest computer in the world (www.top500.org), with a capacity of 91 teraflops, or 91 trillion calculations per second.

Although he hasn't seen the applications, Schultz said he doubts any of the projects are merely proposals. He thinks most will already have been started on a smaller scale using, for example, a Unix cluster. "They should be projects with some level of maturity already to justify the large scale of computing resources being requested," he said.

The deadline for applications was last month, and winners will be announced by the DOE shortly. Prospective projects include large applications in aerospace, automotive engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, energy and physics.

Recent accomplishments under the INCITE program have included detailed three-dimensional combustion simulations of flames that provided new insight into reducing pollutants; astrophysics simulations of the forces that help newly born stars and black holes increase in size; and protein simulations designed to advance scientists' knowledge of the function of proteins and their use in drug design.

The INCITE program is open to all scientific researchers and research organizations, including industry. The program seeks computation-intensive research projects of large scale that can make high-impact scientific advances through the use of a large allocation of computer time and data storage. Proposals can be for one to three years.

"IBM invested in BGW . . . to explore a range of fields including life sciences, hydrodynamics, materials sciences, quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics and fluid dynamics -- as well as business applications," said Dave Turek, vice president of Deep Computing at IBM, in a statement.

INCITE includes high-end computing resources not only at Argonne but also at DOE's Oak Ridge, Lawrence Berkeley and Pacific Northwest national laboratories.