NSF sends $65M to University of Tennessee for blazing supercomputer

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $65 million grant to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to develop Kraken, a state of the art, 120,000 processor core supercomputer.

Kraken, named after the notorious sea monster, will be tied into and should significantly boost the power of TeraGrid, the NSF's high-performance, distributed open scientific research cyberinfrastructure. Currently, TeraGrid resources include more than 750 teraflops of computing capability and more than 30 petabytes of online and archival data storage, with rapid access and retrieval over high-performance networks, according to the TeraGrid Web site. Researchers can also access more than 100 discipline-specific databases.

Kraken's heart will be a Cray XT4 supercomputer that uses Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors which ultimately will be capable of nearly 1,000 trillion calculations a second (1 petaflops) and will give researchers the tools they need to conduct transformational research in a variety of fields, Cray said.

Designed for sustained application performance, scalability, and reliability, the system will be housed at the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Computational Sciences.

The supercomputer's high-speed 3D torus interconnect, advanced MPP operating system and high-speed global input/output make it possible for users to scale applications to more than 120,000 processor cores, Cray said.

The system is expected to support a variety of applications. For example:

* Astrophysicists will move toward realistic simulations of supernova formation, galaxy evolution, and black hole mergers.

* Climate scientists will get a boost in their efforts to predict extreme weather such as hurricanes and tornadoes as well as long-term climate change and the effects of pollution.

* Earth scientists will be able to perform high-resolution simulations of the earth's interior and enhance our understanding of the planet's evolution.

* Materials scientists will be better able to design materials with useful properties.

* The system will also enable researchers to develop new knowledge and solutions in areas such as chemistry, biochemistry, particle physics, engineering, and computer science.

The grant is being issued by the NSF's Office of Cyber Infrastructure. It includes $30 million for computer hardware as well as $35 million toward operation of the system over the course of the next 5 years.

TeraGrid is coordinated through the Grid Infrastructure Group (GIG) at the University of Chicago, working in partnership with the Resource Provider sites: Indiana University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Purdue University, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Texas Advanced Computing Center, University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory, the National Institute for Computational Sciences, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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