12K times the power of typical desktop PC
Jan 17, 2013 (The Dominion Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Morgantown's newest supercomputer makes most others in the world jealous.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) recently received the results of testing on its new supercomputer, The High-Performance Computer for Energy and the Environment. The computer ranks as the 55th most powerful supercomputer in the world, according to the internationally recognized TOP500 list. The computer was designed in 2011, said Joe Baldwin, federal project director. Most typical desktop computers run a duel or quad processor, said Mark Estel, division director for Information Technology Division for NETL Morgantown. The super computer is a bit more powerful. "This has 24,000 core [processors]," he said. So essentially, the NETL computer is 12,000 times more powerful than a typical desktop computer, Estel said. The computer is a 503 TFlops computer. TFlop stands for trillion floating-point operations per second, or how many trillion computations per second. When tested, the supercomputer preformed at 82.2 usability or 413.5 TFlops. Estel explained that TFlops are how much a machine can process, adding that NETL's computer can process a lot.
The computer will be used to perform various simulations involving fossil-fuel research, Baldwin said. Estel added that it creates a virtual product and allows researchers to see what would happen without having to build something. The research could be on big topics, such as power plants, or as small as simulations on the molecular level.
Morgantown NETL's Deputy Director Brad Tomer said the computer will allow research to move items from the lab phase to the real world application quicker.
While the supercomputer's ranking is great, Estel said the real value will come from its research.
The computer is in the NETL's Simulation-Based Engineering User Center, in the facility along Colling Ferry Road. In the future, user centers will be at other NETL facilities and the NETL's academic partners, such as WVU, Pitt and Virginia Tech.
The entire cost of the project was roughly $20 million, Baldwin said.
NETL staff is now in the process of transferring data to the new computer and hopes to have the move completed by the end of the month, Baldwin said. During the next few months, researchers will be trained to use the new computer.
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