Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF)

Photo of Mira, the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility's Next-Generation Supercomputer.

The ALCF provides the computational science community with a world-class computing capability dedicated to breakthrough science and engineering.
Argonne, Illinois Location
2006 Start of Operations
1,538 (FY 2022) Number of Users


The Leadership Computing Facility (LCF) at Argonne National Laboratory (ALCF) was established in partnership with the LCF at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (OLCF) to provide the world’s most advanced computational resources to the open science community.  The LCFs develop and use the most advanced computing systems for the open science community, including industry, and also works intensively with key science teams to enable breakthrough computations.

The ALCF began operations in 2006 and the research conducted has spanned diverse scientific areas - from studying exploding stars to designing more efficient jet engines to exploring the molecular basis of Parkinson’s disease.  The ALCF team provides expertise and assistance to support user's projects to achieve top performance of applications and to maximize benefits from the use of ALCF resources. The newest resource at the ALCF is an IBM Blue Gene/Q nicknamed Mira. Mira has 48 racks and 786,432 cores, weighing in at 104 tons. It has a theoretical peak of 10 petaflops (10 quadrillion floating point operations per second). In addition to being one of the fastest computers in the world it is also among the most energy efficient, consuming only 3.9 MW. The ALCF also offers other smaller systems for tool and application porting, software testing and optimization, and systems software development. In 2013, the ALCF provided nearly 4 billion processor hours on Mira for large scale computationally intensive projects in a wide array of disciplines from high energy physics to protein modeling and to materials science.


LCF computational resources are competitively allocated to scientists from the research community in industry, academia, and national laboratories. Scientists and engineers using the LCFs have achieved numerous wide-ranging research accomplishments and technological innovations.  More than 500 peer-reviewed research articles based directly upon LCF projects were published in 2012 alone, including several in high-impact journals such as Science, Nature, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

ALCF high-impact scientific achievements include: exploring alternate materials for hydrogen-on-demand production, resulting in orders-of-magnitude acceleration of the reaction rate and higher yield; creating a numerical wind tunnel to predict acoustic signatures of nozzle designs aimed at reducing noise of jet engines, which improves safety and efficiency;  performing the first molecular-level theory simulations of an enzyme’s ability to catalyze consecutive reactions used in the cellulose-degrading process for biomass energy production; developing new computational capabilities for the molecule dynamics community and new capabilities to study and treat neurodegenerative diseases; and conducting a trillion-particle Outer Rim cosmology study that was 15 times larger than the largest simulation previously carried out in the US and provided invaluable results for ongoing and upcoming DOE-funded sky surveys, such as the Dark Energy Survey and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.