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A banner year expected for high-performance computing

by Kathy Chambers on Wed, February 05, 2014

The Titan 2 supercomputer at ORNL


Just seven miles south of our OSTI facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is a national treasure – the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  ORNL is DOE’s largest multi-program laboratory where remarkable scientific expertise and world-class scientific facilities and equipment are applied to develop scientific and technological solutions that are changing our world. ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences is home to two of ORNL’s high-performance computing projects -- the National Climate-Computing Research Center (NCRC), where research is dedicated to climate science, and the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF).  OLCF delivers the most powerful computational resource in the U.S. for open science, allowing the world’s best computational researchers an opportunity to tackle problems that would be unthinkable on other systems.

OLCF has such a remarkable history. It was established in 2004 to deliver a supercomputer 100 times more powerful than the leading systems of the day. Its Cray XT4 Jaguar ran the first scientific applications to exceed 1,000 trillion calculations a second (1 petaflop) in 2008. In preparation for the exascale, OLCF elicited petascale computational science requirements from the international science community and began to prepare for next-generation science. OLCF continued to expand the limits of the Jaguar in 2011 to deliver a peak performance of more than 2.3 petaflops becoming the world’s most powerful supercomputer. OLCF has now upgraded the Jaguar to the Titan Cray XK7 which is currently ranked by the Top500 List as the world’s second most powerful supercomputer and one of the most energy efficient systems on the list. Titan’s unique hybrid-architecture system combines gaming and traditional computing technologies to provide unprecedented power for research with a theoretical peak performance exceeding 27,000 trillion calculations per second (27 petaflops).

OLCF’s Annual Report 2012 – 2013 showcases Jaguar’s amazing success stories from conducting virtual screenings for new drug candidates to determining the number of isotopes allowed by the law of physics. These discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg from what is beginning to happen on the Titan. Just weeks ago researchers recruited Titan to study the key molecular switch that controls cell behavior. Plasma turbulence is being simulated billions of light-years away, earthquake physics necessary for safer building design is being modeled, and the Titan is propelling GE wind turbine research into new territory. Simulations being performed on the Titan are unprecedented and groundbreaking and they are laying the groundwork for years of scientific breakthroughs.

Most of the allocations for time on state-of-the-art supercomputers like Titan come from the DOE’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory (INCITE) program. A glimpse of the computational research projects INCITE awarded grants to for 2014 indicates that it will be a banner year for high-speed computing.

Read about high-performance computer designs, characteristics, and capabilities in Dr. William Watson’s latest white paper In the OSTI Collections: High-Performance Computing. Search high-performance computing science information in DOE’s SciTech Connect, your source for DOE science, technology and engineering research and development information.


Kathy Chambers



Related OSTI Products: SciTech Connect
Other Related Topics: High-performance computing, Jaguar, ORNL, Titan
Page last updated on 2017-08-11 10:05

About the Author

Kathy Chambers's picture
Kathy Chambers
Technical Writer, Information International Associates, Inc.