Energy lab orders HP supercomputer for unclassified research

Energy lab orders HP supercomputer for unclassified research

An Energy Department laboratory in Richland, Wash., yesterday announced it has ordered a $24.5 million, 1,388-processor Hewlett-Packard Co. supercomputer for environmental and biological research.

When it becomes fully operational early next year, the new Pacific Northwest National Laboratory system is expected to join the elite ranks of the world's fastest supercomputers and be the fastest single computer running the open-source Linux operating system.

The HP system will replace PNNL's 512-processor IBM SP computer, which has dropped in the world rankings of fast computers from 19th to 188th place over the past few years, said David Dixon, an associate director of the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at PNNL.

Installation starts this summer with delivery of the first 128 nodes containing 256 of Intel Corp.'s second-generation 64-bit Itanium processors, the model commonly known as McKinley. The final production system will host an additional 566 dual-processor nodes based on an upgraded Itanium CPU code-named Madison.

The supercomputer will have a theoretical peak performance of 8.3 trillion floating-point operations per second (TFLOPS), placing it among the classified parallel systems used at other Energy labs to simulate the aging of nuclear weapons.

Among the problems that the HP supercomputer will simulate are the environmental effects of uranium waste storage at Energy's Hanford, Wash., site and the interactions of protein molecules within human and microbial cells.

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