Category Archives: Supercomputing

Checking out ORNL’s electricity bill

titanSo, in case you’ve ever wondered, Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses a lot of electricity to carry out its missions for the U.S. Department of Energy. The bill annually exceeds $30 million, and there is obvious pressure at a DOE lab to be as energy-efficient as possible.

ORNL spokesman David Keim confirmed that more than half of the lab’s electricity bill can be attributed to power needs for two major operations: the Spallation Neutron Source and the lab’s cadre of high-performance computers, including the nation’s most powerful computer known as Titan (a Cray XK7 system). Continue reading

ORNL’s Titan retains No. 2 world ranking

titanThe latest biannual Top500 rankings of the world’s fastest supercomputers has been released, with China’s Tianhe-2 still on top of the list — for the sixth consecutive time — and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan (a Cray XK7 system) retaining the No. 2 slot. The Tianhe-2 system has a max capability of 33.86 petaflops (nearly 40 million billion calculations per second). Titan has achieved 17.59 petaflops in tests.

The Trinity supercomputer (a Cray XC system) at Los Alamos/Sandia is one of the new arrivals in the Top 10, securing  the No. 6 position at 8.1 petaflops. Continue reading

Changes of note

kothe-thumb-220x275-15380.jpgOver the past week, I learned (belatedly it appears) of a few changes. Doug Kothe, pictured left, is no longer heading CASL (Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors), an innovation hub at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Jess Gehin has now taken over that role. Kothe, according to ORNL Director Thom Mason, has taken on an important new role with the big exascale supercomputing program that was established earlier this year by President Obama’s executive order, the National Strategic Computing Initiative. Here’s more from Inside HPC.

“Doug is playing a lead role in pulling that plan together,” Mason said, noting that the national labs are heavily involved but also the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Continue reading

Mason says FY2015 was a pretty good year for ORNL and explains why

10348989614_59eb5cc817_bEarlier this week, I asked Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason about the state of the lab and to reflect on Fiscal Year 2015, which concluded Sept. 30.  I posted some of his thoughts on the current budget situation, and he’s got his fingers crossed there.

As regards the past year at ORNL, Mason cited several highlights:

CORAL: Last November, the next-big-thing in supercomputing was announced in Washington, the Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Lawrence Livermore National Labs, setting the stage for ORNL to get a super-duper from IBM/NVIDIA that will succeed the lab’s Cray Titan system that’s the nation’s most power machine for science research and the second fastest computer int he world. “We’re excited about the potential embodied in that announcement,” Mason said. Continue reading

ORNL’s Buddy Bland talks about computers taking over the world ( . . . not yet, BTW)

Buddy Bland, leader of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Leadership Computing Facility, shares some thoughts on the lab’s Titan supercomputer — the nation’s powerful machine dedicated to science research — in a CNN video. He also admits to being a sci-fi fan — especially those movies where computers take over the world. He’s apparently seen them all.

‘Can a Robot Have a Mind?’

The featured speaker at the Oct. 13 lunch meeting of Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be Bruce MacLennan, associate professor at the University of Tennessee’s Electrical and Computer Science Department. His topic will be: “Can a Robot Have a Mind?”maclennan

Here’s an abstract from MacLennan:  “Suppose we could make a robot with the intelligence of a human. Would it be conscious?  Feel emotions?  Have free will? How could you tell?  In this talk I will explore these questions and discuss how they could be answered scientifically.  In particular, I will address the problem of machine consciousness, which is an instance of what philosophers call the Hard Problem of consciousness: the task of explaining the relation between conscious experience and the physical processes associated with it.  In addition to its relevance to artificial intelligence, this question provides a sharp test-case for our theories of the human mind, and investigating it will foster a deeper understanding of our own humanity.” Continue reading

The future is now, right?

titanStudent interns at Oak Ridge National Laboratory get a chance to do all sorts of things that would be unimaginable in normal settings for kids in their teens or early 20s. It’s like a cool dream come true, especially when young scientists and engineers get a summer opportunity to test the boundaries of their minds and of science via the use of the world’s top supercomputers. It’s a thing. Continue reading

IBM/NVIDIA to create supercomputing Centers of Excellence at ORNL, Livermore

summitpicThe Summit supercomputer system is supposed to be delivered to Oak Ridge in 2017. (ORNL image)

IBM and NVIDA recently announced they were creating Centers of Excellence for supercomputing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This move is tied to the collaboration on the next big supercomputing systems to be delivered to ORNL (Summit) and Livermore (Sierra) in 2017, with operations the next year. The supercomputing contracts were awarded late last year as part of a multi-lab effort known as CORAL — Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Lawrence Livermore — to accelerate development of next-generation machines.

ORNL’s Titan supercomputer retains No. 2 ranking

titanOak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer, a Cray XK7 system capable of more than 17.5 petaflops — or 17.5 million billion calculations per second — remains No. 2 on the new TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers. The new rankings were released at the Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

China’s Tianhe-2 still resides atop the list with a capability of more than 33 petaflops. The Tianhe-2 system was developed at China’s National University of Defense Technology. Continue reading

Four from ORNL get early-career grants

earlycareerGrant winners from left are Christian Engelmann, Cory Hauck, Katharine Page and Chad Parish. (ORNL photos)

Four researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will receive at least $500K a year a year for the next five years as part of a Department of Energy program to boost the work of scientists and engineers early in their careers. All told, 44 scientists across the U.S. received the early-career grants.

Here are the four from ORNL: Continue reading