U.S. Department of Energy and IBM to Collaborate in Advancing Supercomputing Technology

Lawrence Livermore and Argonne National
Lab Scientists to Work with IBM Designers

November 15, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today that its Office of Science, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and IBM will share the cost of a five-year, $58 million research and development (R&D) effort to further enhance the capabilities of the fastest computer in existence. Under the agreement, scientists from two of the DOE’s national laboratories are teaming with IBM to further develop supercomputer technology to increase America’s ability to deliver answers to scientific problems and to safeguard the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

“Supercomputing is essential to maintaining and extending America’s economic competitiveness,” said DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman. “This R&D effort will give us the capability to advance science and business with unprecedented speed, performance and efficiency.

A key goal of the R&D effort is to produce a software environment that enables scientific exploration atop an architecture that can scale to hundreds of thousands of low-power CPU cores. Some other specific examples of scientific problems in the national interest include:

  • reinvigorating nuclear power technologies;
  • speeding genome sequencing;
  • modeling environmental and climate changes; and
  • deepening the understanding of genetic and biological processes.

The work will be performed by scientists at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) working together with computer and software designers from IBM. NNSA and The Office of Science will each contribute $17.5 million and IBM will contribute $23 million.

“Supercomputers are crucial to the continued success of the NNSA's science-based efforts to keep the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure and reliable without underground testing,” said NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks. “Computing at these scales will enable predictive simulations that allow researchers to understand how complex physical, chemical and biological systems behave over time. Previously, it was only possible to get brief snapshots on a smaller scale.”

“IBM is committed to pushing the boundaries of deep computing in the service of important national goals,” said Tilak Agerwala, Vice President of Systems, IBM Research. “This partnership with Livermore and Argonne National Lab will drive innovations in ultrascale computing and demonstrate that the Blue Gene approach can effectively scale far beyond any machine yet devised.”

“This agreement will help us design computer architectures to attack key scientific problems, said Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, DOE Under Secretary for Science. “It offers a tremendous step forward.”

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the nation and helps ensure U.S. world leadership across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The Office of Science supports a diverse portfolio of research at more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide, manages 10 world-class national laboratories with unmatched capabilities for solving complex interdisciplinary scientific problems, and builds and operates the world’s finest suite of scientific facilities and instruments used annually by more than 19,000 researchers to extend the frontiers of all areas of science. Visit http://www.sc.doe.gov/ for more information.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/ for more information.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Visit http://www.llnl.gov/ for more information.

The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies and numerous federal agencies and other organizations to help advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for the future. Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. Visit http://www.anl.gov/ for more information.

Media contact(s):
Jeff Sherwood (DOE), (202) 586-5806
Kevin Acocella (IBM), (917) 842-4680
Eleanor Taylor (ANL), (630) 252-5565
Don Johnston (LLNL), (925) 423-4902