June 21, 2000

NERSC Has World's Most Powerful Unclassified Supercomputer

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BERKELEY, CA — In the latest ranking of the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers, a 2,528-processor IBM RS/6000 SP system at the U. S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is listed as the top unclassified supercomputer on Earth.

In overall rankings, it finished second to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s classified IBM ASCI White system, with 8,192 processors.


The IBM SP, which is the newest high-performance computer in the DOE’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Berkeley Lab, has a theoretical peak speed of 3.8 teraflops (3.8 trillion calculations per second). The IBM supercomputer is used by more than 2,000 researchers at national laboratories and universities across the country to study problems such as improving internal combustion to increase efficiency and reduce pollution, improving human health, researching future sources of energy, understanding global climate change, developing new materials, studying the nature of the universe, and adding to our basic scientific knowledge in physics and chemistry.

"We’re proud to have the world’s top supercomputer for unclassified research, but more importantly, we’re fulfilling our mission to provide Department of Energy scientists with the tools to advance scientific research in many disciplines," said Bill Kramer, who runs NERSC’s computing facility. "Each time we have deployed a new, more powerful computer, our users have taken advantage of it to produce new scientific breakthroughs. That is why we concentrate on how effective these systems are for scientific and technical work."

NERSC is also home to a 696-processor Cray T3E supercomputer, which was installed in 1997 and is ranked 55 on the newest listing. A 160-processor IBM cluster at NERSC is 386 on the list. The machines are housed in Berkeley Lab’s new Oakland Scientific Facility.

The ranking of the world’s top supercomputers is done twice a year and has become a much-anticipated event in the world of high-performance computing. The 17th edition of the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers was released June 21at a conference in Heidelberg, Germany. The list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of Berkeley Lab, and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee.

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