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On the Path to Predictive Simulation

BlueGene/L—twelfth on the TOP500 list of supercomputers with a sustained world-record speed of 478.2 teraFLOP/s—is a revolutionary, low-cost machine delivering extraordinary computing power for the nation's Stockpile Stewardship Program. (BlueGene/L earned the number 1 position on the TOP500 list from Nov. 2004 to Jun. 2008.)

Located in the Terascale Simulation Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, BlueGene/L is used by scientists at Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia National Laboratories. The 596-teraFLOPS machine handles many challenging scientific simulations, including ab initio molecular dynamics; three-dimensional (3D) dislocation dynamics; and turbulence, shock, and instability phenomena in hydrodynamics. It is also a computational science research machine for evaluating advanced computer architectures.

The unusual slant to BlueGene/L's cabinets is a necessary design element to keep cooled air flowing properly around each cabinet's processors.

Developed by the IBM Watson Research Center in partnership with many, BlueGene/L is scaled up with a few unique components and IBM's system-on-a-chip technology developed for the embedded microprocessor marketplace. The computer's nodes are interconnected in three different ways instead of the usual one. Using a cell-based design, BlueGene/L is a scalable architecture in which the computational power of the machine can be expanded by adding more building blocks, without introduction of bottlenecks as the machine scales up.

Key stockpile stewardship application results on BlueGene/L are pointing to a qualitative change in the way computational science can be performed. With a rapid time-to-solution, scientists can perform a new run every day, make numerous investigations, and explore multiple alternatives. An entire scientific study can now be performed in the same time as just one science run required only a year ago. BlueGene/L is already making an impact on key NNSA missions and exploring one route toward cost-effective petaFLOPS computing capabilities. BlueGene/L is optimized to run molecular dynamics applications at extreme speeds to address materials aging issues confronting the Stockpile Stewardship Program. BlueGene/L is also a computational science research machine for evaluating advanced computer architectures.


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