The Blue Waters supercomputer, which is housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), recently opened for use in a ceremony that featured a variety of movers and shakers in the high-performance computing, corporate, government and science sectors. Among those industry leaders was Pete Ungaro, President and CEO of Cray Inc., who spoke at the event along with Pat Quinn, the Governor of the State of Illinois. The event represented Blue Waters’ formal introduction into research society, as it has already been used for important early projects and is now being made more widely available.
With tight HPC-integration across compute, memory and storage, Blue Waters, a Cray XK7 supercomputer, is one of the most powerful supercomputing systems in the world, and it is producing real-world science today. Check out how it all came together in this time-lapse video of Blue Waters’ construction.
Looking at Blue Waters’ performance punch
The Blue Waters supercomputer is capable of achieving 12 quadrillion floating point operations per second when operating at peak capacity. With 1.5 PB of system memory and 25 PB of 1 TB/s Cray® Sonexion® storage, the Blue Waters supercomputer delivers over a petaflop of sustained performance capacity, enabling support of a wide range of advanced research efforts and accelerating the pace of scientific progress.
According to the National Science Foundation, one of the organizations behind the Blue Waters supercomputer project, the memory and storage functions offered by the underlying architecture of the supercomputer put the device in a unique position because it offers high levels of performance while also operating with incredible efficiency.
These high-performance capabilities position Blue Waters supercomputer to run a significant number of scientific and engineering applications, the scale of which has never been addressed to date. Time has been allocated to more than 30 teams of engineers and scientists since a friendly-use program was initiated in 2012 to ramp up the early system. With Blue Waters supercomputer fully installed and running across a range of industry leading codes and applications, the system is now ready to address the most data-intensive compute challenges now and long into the future.
Let the advanced research begin
As a result, the Cray XK7 supercomputer will be able to directly address diverse research areas, such as biology, chemistry, cosmology, materials study, particle physics, weather, climate and more.
Specific and complex example studies include:
– Modeling HIV
– Simulating global climate change
– Earthquake prediction
– Behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes
– Flood assessment, drought monitoring and resource management
– Engineering of power distribution systems
– Aerodynamics of automobiles and airplanes
– Fundamental properties of nature
The performance attributes of the Cray XK7 supercomputer are already paying dividends as Blue Waters supercomputer unlocks vital research capabilities in a variety of industries and science domains, improving our understanding of our place in the cosmos and imparting positive change for earth.