DOE pairs with IBM, NVIDIA for supercomputer app


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The Energy Department along with IBM and NVIDIA announced plans Monday to form two new supercomputer centers of excellence aimed at creating applications that will eventually be used on two forthcoming supercomputers.

The centers will house computation scientists from IBM and NVIDIA at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The researchers will work with Energy Department scientists on tools and technologies for the Summit and Sierra supercomputers. IBM and NVIDIA are part of a contract to build and maintain both computers, which are expected to operational by 2018.

The work at the centers of excellence will pave the way for research dedicated to energy, climate research, cosmology, biophysics, astrophysics, medicine and national security interests. The code used for the forthcoming applications will be chosen from the department’s Center for Accelerated Application Readiness program, which aims to maximize the supercomputer’s processing power while minimizing the energy used.

“Application code innovation is a vital component of making sure our facilities are prepared to take advantage of the performance of the new supercomputers,” Michel McCoy, program director for advanced simulation and computing at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement. “By partnering with IBM and NVIDIA, the Centers of Excellence bring together the people who know the science, the people who know the code, and the people who know the machines – ensuring we are innovating across the board so that Sierra and Summit will be primed to achieve their missions for national security and scientific advancement as soon as they’re delivered.”

Trying to limit the power consumption of the two supercomputers is a key hurdle in their development. When the project was announced last November, the Energy Department told the companies involved they needed to fit the computers in a “20-megawatt envelope.”

IBM and NVIDIA plan to help the computers get to that energy level by harnessing IBM’s OpenPOWER architecture and NVIDIA’s NVLink, a high-speed interconnection between CPUs and GPUs.

“The work accomplished through the Centers of Excellence will be a milestone in our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Dave Turek, IBM’s vice president of HPC market engagement. “It is about more than just delivering our new data-centric OpenPOWER-based hardware systems. Along with NVIDIA, our scientists are ensuring Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore are able to get the most out of these revolutionary supercomputers to reach the next level of scientific discovery.”

IBM saidit hopes to create the first prototypes for Summit and Sierra by late 2015.

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Department of Energy (DOE), Departments, IBM, NVIDIA