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ORNL supercomputer simulation wins prize for fastest-running science application
Date:11/20/2008

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2008 -- A team led by Thomas Schulthess of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory received the prestigious 2008 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Gordon Bell Prize Thursday after attaining the fastest performance ever in a scientific supercomputing application.

Schulthess is group leader of ORNL's Computational Materials Science Group and recently accepted a position as director of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center at Manno, an institution of ETH Zurich. He and colleagues Thomas Maier, Michael Summers and Gonzalo Alvarez, all of ORNL, achieved 1.352 quadrillion calculations a second--or 1.352 petaflops--on ORNL's Cray XT Jaguar supercomputer with a simulation of superconductors, or materials that conduct electricity without resistance. By modifying the algorithms and software design of its DCA++ code to maximize speed without sacrificing accuracy, the team was able to boost performance tenfold with the help of John Levesque and Jeff Larkin of Cray Inc.

Jaguar was recently upgraded to a peak performance of 1.64 petaflops, making it the world's first petaflop system dedicated to open research. The team's simulation made efficient use of 150,000 of Jaguar's 180,000-plus processing cores to explore electrical conductance.

To put the achievement into perspective, it would take every man, woman and child on earth more than 500 years to work through as many calculations as DCA++ gets through in a single day--and that's assuming each of us worked day and night solving one calculation a second.

Researchers have known about superconductors for nearly a century and have prized these materials both for their ability to conduct electricity without resistance, or energy loss, and for their especially strong magnetic field. Superconducting materials have obvious potential application in power transmission, and superconducting magnets have found a place in hospital magnetic re
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Contact: Leo Williams
williamsjl2@ornl.gov
865-574-8891
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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