Researchers Tap SGI Supercomputers in Effort to Harness Storehouse of Energy Locked Away in Earth's Vast Oceans
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., (December 20, 2004)—Scientists in search of new and inexhaustible sources of energy require some of the most advanced supercomputing resources available. To address those needs, researchers at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) have acquired two powerful new supercomputers from Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI).
LLE researchers purchased two SGI® Altix® 3000 supercomputers - one powered by 256 Intel® Itanium® 2 processors and the other driven by 64 Itanium 2 processors - to accelerate efforts to identify sustainable and even infinite energy sources. LLE's broad range experiments include trying to pinpoint ways to use Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) to, among other things, harness the ocean's ample storehouse of untapped energy.
The Altix systems, installed in September, separately provide 256GB and 64GB of globally addressable memory, and deliver from two to 10 times the performance of the center's previously installed servers and supercomputers, including systems from IBM and Compaq. For LLE researchers, many of whom direct projects on behalf of the US Department of Energy, faster performance means scientists can achieve higher degrees of accuracy and productivity than ever before - a crucial advantage, because LLE scientists expect their experiments to grow only more complicated in the future.
"The work conducted at LLE involves exceptionally advanced science, such as the study of intensive laser matter interactions," said Professor Robert L. McCrory, director and CEO, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, University of Rochester. "These large-scale problems require enormous levels of compute power coupled with a system capable of holding massive data sets entirely in memory. After running exhaustive benchmarks on clusters and supercomputers from every major system provider, SGI Altix emerged as the only platform that met our compute demands as well as our price/performance requirements."
The new Altix supercomputers will help researchers conduct very large-scale multi-dimensional, radiation hydrodynamics simulations of ICF target implosion experiments carried out on the LLE's 60-beam OMEGA Laser system.
"The computational power afforded to us by this acquisition enables detailed studies of the development and Rayleigh-Taylor unstable growth of very fine-scale perturbations present in our experiments. Control of these perturbations is critical in the design and implementation of cryogenic ignition experiments to be carried out on the National Ignition Facility, currently under construction in Livermore, Calif.," said Patrick McKenty, senior scientist and group leader, Theoretical Division, LLE. "These ignition experiments will determine the feasibility of using ICF reactors as a virtually inexhaustible source of electrical power for generations to come."
LLE researchers also focus on development of new laser and materials technologies, new technologies related to high-energy-density phenomena, and other disciplines related to electro-optics, plasma physics, and nuclear fusion technology. At LLE and at research institutions the world over, Altix supercomputers have helped shorten the time to discovery for studying select materials and the research of high-energy physics. Because of their world-record performance and global shared-memory architecture, SGI Altix supercomputers and clusters enable massive amounts of data to be analyzed and studied in a very short timeframe.
Clarix Technologies, a Rochester, NY-based provider of SGI® systems to research and education customers in New York and Pennsylvania, worked closely with the University of Rochester and SGI throughout the benchmarking and acquisition process.
News of the University of Rochester's acquisition of Altix supercomputers comes on the heels of the Oct. 26 unveiling of NASA's 10,240-processor Altix installation, named Columbia, which at that time was confirmed as the world's most powerful supercomputer. By applying to its scientific pursuits the same technology that built NASA's historic Columbia system, the University of Rochester joins a growing number of supercomputing centers adopting rapidly deployable, industry-standard SGI Altix systems powered by Intel Itanium 2 processors and a 64-bit Linux® operating environment.
"As the pace of scientific discovery accelerates, researchers are seeing their data sets swell in size and complexity, thus causing bottlenecks that can sap productivity and critically impede progress," said Jeff Greenwald, senior director, server product management and marketing, SGI. "The important work pursued by the University of Rochester's LLE simply cannot wait for systems that are unable to handle the load. We're proud that this vital research institution has turned to SGI Altix and its scalable, shared-memory architecture to serve as a platform for the LLE's exciting investigation into finding a limitless source of energy here on Earth."
SGI® Altix® 3000 systems are available today in single-system configurations of 8 to 256 processors, with larger multi-system configurations scaling to thousands of processors. For customers demanding even larger Altix systems, SGI plans to support configurations of 2,048 and more processors over time. Additional Altix system technical and availability information is posted on www.sgi.com/products/servers/altix/.