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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Selects IBM Technology to Power Cloud Computing Research

Technology purchased with Recovery Act funds from the Department of Energy

November 16, 2009

Berkeley Lab Contact: Jon Bashor, jbashor@lbl.gov, 510-501-2230
IBM Contact: Joanna Brewer, jmbrewer@us.ibm.com, 415-971-2777

Armonk, NY and Berkeley, CA — IBM and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) announced today that an IBM System x iDataPlex server will run the Lab's program to explore how cloud computing can be used to advance scientific discovery.

The program, dubbed Magellan, is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Magellan system will be a testbed for National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) scientists to explore the effectiveness of cloud computing for their particular research problems. Ultimately, the project will benefit society by allowing scientists to accelerate discoveries in such disciplines as energy efficiency, climate change and genomics.

The Magellan Project will use IBM's newest iDataPlex dx360 M2 server, which features double the memory and even higher power efficiency than previous versions. Harnessing iDataPlex's innovative half-depth design and liquid-cooled door, clients can lower cooling costs by as much as half and reduce floor space requirements by 30 percent.

The iDataPlex is on the list of most energy efficient computers in the world, the Green500 List. Berkeley Lab's iDataPlex system will have a theoretical peak speed of more than 60 teraflops and will be used to explore a set of possible software configurations for science clouds.

While DOE centers operate some of the world's most powerful supercomputers, many researchers do not require such massive computing power. Cloud computing makes it efficient for the Lab to also support scientists with modest-size computing problems.

"Cloud computing has tremendous potential to accelerate scientific discoveries by making computing resources readily available to the masses of scientists. Rather than buying and managing their own cluster, a researcher can simply access a virtual cluster within the cloud. We expect many of the NERSC users to take advantage of Magellan for real scientific work, and at the same time we will be conducting research on how to build and manage science clouds," said Kathy Yelick, head of the NERSC Division at Berkeley Lab. "We evaluated a number of different technologies and concluded that IBM iDataPlex would deliver the best value to complete this important research."

The Magellan research team will deploy a large cloud testbed with 5,760 processor cores on iDataPlex to evaluate a variety of DOE scientific applications, from power grid simulations to nanoparticle analysis and analyzing climate change data.

The Magellan Project will help the DOE determine which scientific applications demonstrate the best performance in the cloud and what software and processes are necessary for those applications to take advantage of cloud services.

For more information about the Magellan Project, click here.


About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 6,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.