Big States (And Countries) Need Big Computers
IBM’s been on a roll with the supercomputer situation of late.
Last week, we announced the installation of a Blue Gene supercomputer at Rutgers, and earlier today, we discovered that the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer is coming to my great home state of Texas.
Specifically, IBM announced a partnership with Houston’s Rice University to build the first award-winning IBM Blue Gene supercomputer in Texas.
Rice also announced a related collaboration agreement with the University of Sao Paul (USP) in Brazil to initiate the shared administration and use of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which allows both institutions to share the benefits of the new computing resource.
Now, you all play nice as you go about all that protein folding analysis!
Rice faculty indicated they would be using the Blue Gene to further their own research and to collaborate with academic and industry partners on a broad range of science and engineering questions related to energy, geophysics, basic life sciences, cancer research, personalized medicine and more.
“Collaboration and partnership have a unique place in Rice’s history as a pre-eminent research university, and it is fitting that Rice begins its second century with two innovative partnerships that highlight the university’s commitments to expanding our international reach, strengthening our research and building stronger ties with our home city,” said Rice President David Leebron about the deal.
USP is Brazil’s largest institution of higher education and research, and Rodas said the agreement represents an important bond between Rice and USP. “The joint utilization of the supercomputer by Rice University and USP, much more than a simple sharing of high-tech equipment, means the strength of an effective partnership between both universities,” explained USP President Joao Grandino Rodas.
Unlike the typical desktop or laptop computer, which have a single microprocessor, supercomputers typically contain thousands of processors. This makes them ideal for scientists who study complex problems, because jobs can be divided among all the processors and run in a matter of seconds rather than weeks or months.
Supercomputers are used to simulate things that cannot be reproduced in a laboratory — like Earth’s climate or the collision of galaxies — and to examine vast databases like those used to map underground oil reservoirs or to develop personalized medical treatments.
USP officials said they expect their faculty to use the supercomputer for research ranging from astronomy and weather prediction to particle physics and biotechnology.
In 2009, President Obama recognized IBM and its Blue Gene family of supercomputers with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the most prestigious award in the United States given to leading innovators for technological achievement.
Including the Blue Gene/P, Rice has partnered with IBM to launch three new supercomputers during the past two years that have more than quadrupled Rice’s high-performance computing capabilities.
The addition of the Blue Gene/P doubles the number of supercomputing CPU hours that Rice can offer. The six-rack system contains nearly 25,000 processor cores that are capable of conducting about 84 trillion mathematical computations each second. When fully operational, the system is expected to rank among the world’s 300 fastest supercomputers as measured by the TOP500 supercomputer rankings.