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NERSC Supercomputing Center Breaks the Petaflops Barrier,

Fielding One of the World's Top Five Fastest Supercomputers

November 14, 2010

Media Contact: Jon Bashor, jbashor@lbl.gov, 510-486-5849

Top500-1.jpg

Left to right, Horst Simon, Jonathan Carter, Kathy Yelick and Erich Strohmaier accept the Top500 Award at the SC10 Conference

BERKELEY, Calif.—The Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), already one of the world’s leading centers for scientific productivity, is now home to the fifth most powerful supercomputer in the world and the second most powerful in the United States, according to the latest edition of the TOP500 list, the definitive ranking of the world’s top computers.

grace hoppen with her name written aside her

Click here for high resolution images of NERSC's Cray XE6 "Hopper"

NERSC's newest supercomputer, a 153,408 processor-core Cray XE6 system, posted a performance of 1.05 petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second) running the Linpack benchmark. In keeping with NERSC's tradition of naming computers for renowned scientists, the system is named Hopper in honor of Admiral Grace Hopper, a pioneer in software development and programming languages. The system, installed d in September 2010, is funded by DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.


The increasing power of supercomputers helps scientists study problems in greater detail and with greater accuracy, such as increasing the resolution of climate models and creating models of new materials with thousands of atoms. Supercomputers are increasingly used to compliment scientific experimentation by allowing researchers to test theories using computational models and analyzed large scientific data sets. NERSC is also home to Franklin, a 38,128 core Cray XT4 supercomputer with a Linpack performance of 266 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second). Franklin is ranked number 27 on the newest TOP500 list. Established in 1974, NERSC is located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and provides computing systems and services to more than 3,000 researchers supported by the Department of Energy (DOE). NERSC’s users, located at universities, national laboratories, and other research institutions around the country, report producing more than 1,500 scientific publications each year as a result of calculations run at NERSC.

"While we are elated to have entered the petascale performance arena, we are especially excited by the computational science potential offered by Hopper," said Kathy Yelick, Director of the NERSC Division and Associate Laboratory Director of Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab. "We selected Cray as the system vendor after a competitive procurement based in large part on how proposed systems performed running our application benchmarks. Now that the system is installed and operational, we will begin our acceptance testing in which we run some of the most demanding scientific applications to ensure that Hopper will meet the day-to-day demands of our users."

NERSC serves one of the largest research communities of all supercomputing centers in the United States. The center's supercomputers are used to tackle a wide range of scientific challenges, including global climate change, combustion, clean energy, new materials, astrophysics, genomics, particle physics and chemistry. The more than 400 projects being addressed by NERSC users represent the research mission areas of DOE’s Office of Science.

The increasing power of supercomputers helps scientists study problems in greater detail and with greater accuracy, such as increasing the resolution of climate models and creating models of new materials with thousands of atoms. Supercomputers are increasingly used to compliment scientific experimentation by allowing researchers to test theories using computational models and analyzed large scientific data sets. NERSC is also home to Franklin, a 38,128 core Cray XT4 supercomputer with a Linpack performance of 266 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second). Franklin is ranked number 27 on the newest TOP500 list.


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.