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Blue Gene Watson ready to roll

Luke Meredith, News Writer

With the help of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), IBM is ready to take its Blue Gene supercomputer out for a test drive.

Big Blue recently reached an agreement with the DOE's Argonne National Laboratory to enhance the computing power at Argonne's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program with compute cycles on IBM's Blue Gene/Watson system (BGW).

IBM hopes this test of Blue Gene's enormous computing capabilities will boost scientific research around the world and raise IBM's already impressive profile in the supercomputing space.

BGW, so named because it resides at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., is the world's second-fastest privately owned supercomputer, with a capacity of 91 teraflops -- or 91 trillion calculations per second -- according to data released in June by Top 500, a supercomputer ranking authority. IBM's Blue Gene/L, with a capacity of 136.8 teraflops, holds the top spot.

BGW contains 32 refrigerator-sized racks, which contain 2,000 dual-core Power chips and 4 MB of embedded RAM apiece.

According to IBM Deep Computing vice president Dave Turek, Argonne and IBM are developing a plan for researchers to request computation time on the BGW to explore a range of fields including life sciences, hydrodynamics, materials sciences, quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics and fluid dynamics -- as well as for business applications.

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IBM launches Blue Gene Watson

Researchers who win a competition run by the DOE, which funds Argonne, can use the Blue Gene supercomputer system.

Since the launch of the BGW in June, the DOE has received 10 proposals from the scientific community asking for a spot on the BGW. Blue Gene deep computing manager Herb Schultz said a winner will be chosen in September, with work slated to kick off in October.

Ten percent of the resources on DOE's own smaller supercomputer will also be available under the INCITE program.

Prospective uses of the program include large applications in aerospace, automotive engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, energy and physics. According to IBM, the INCITE program has already produced detailed three-dimensional combustion simulations of flames that provide 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 about the function of proteins and their use in drug design.

Argonne conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. It is managed for the DOE's Office of Science by the University of Chicago.

"We want to know more about what Blue Gene can do," Herb Schultz, deep computing manger, Blue Gene program said. "We think there's a whole class of problems that we think we can scale up (to tackle) but before Blue Gene there was no system to scale up too. It's a good opportunity for IBM. Hopefully we can learn how to make Blue Gene better."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer


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