ORNL is getting a new $95M research building

(Originally published on Knoxville News Sentinel)

Four shovels flung dirt on the former site of two World War II-era buildings at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. As rubble from the Manhattan Project buildings lay piled in the background, officials broke ground for a $95 million laboratory.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., joined ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia and Johnny Moore, ORNL site office manager for DOE, for the ceremony.

The Translational Research Capability facility will be built near the center of ORNL’s main campus. It will include about 100,000 square feet of space, similar to the nearby Chemicals and Materials Sciences building, completed in 2011.

About three-quarters of the building will have open-plan modular areas holding various high-tech equipment and inert environment labs, while the rest will be office and support space, according to a DOE news release.

Some labs had to move to make room for the new Frontier supercomputer, Zacharia said.

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ORNL launches world’s most powerful, smartest scientific supercomputer Summit

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory unveiled Summit as the world’s most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputer.

With a peak performance of 200,000 trillion calculations per second—or 200 petaflops, Summit will be eight times more powerful than ORNL’s previous top-ranked system, Titan. For certain scientific applications, Summit will also be capable of more than three billion billion mixed precision calculations per second, or 3.3 exaops. Summit will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, advanced materials and artificial intelligence (AI), among other domains, enabling scientific discoveries that were previously impractical or impossible.

“Today’s launch of the Summit supercomputer demonstrates the strength of American leadership in scientific innovation and technology development. It’s going to have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness and national security,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “I am truly excited by the potential of Summit, as it moves the nation one step closer to the goal of delivering an exascale supercomputing system by 2021. Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation and above all, benefit the American people.”

The IBM AC922 system consists of 4,608 compute servers, each containing two 22-core IBM Power9 processors and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 graphics processing unit accelerators, interconnected with dual-rail Mellanox EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand. Summit also possesses more than 10 petabytes of memory paired with fast, high-bandwidth pathways for efficient data movement. The combination of cutting-edge hardware and robust data subsystems marks an evolution of the hybrid CPU–GPU architecture successfully pioneered by the 27-petaflops Titan in 2012.

ORNL researchers have figured out how to harness the power and intelligence of Summit’s state-of-art architecture to successfully run the world’s first exascale scientific calculation. A team of scientists led by ORNL’s Dan Jacobson and Wayne Joubert has leveraged the intelligence of the machine to run a 1.88 exaops comparative genomics calculation relevant to research in bioenergy and human health. The mixed precision exaops calculation produced identical results to more time-consuming 64-bit calculations previously run on Titan.

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