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IBM and NVIDIA Launch Supercomputer Centers of Excellence with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore National Labs

Designed to Accelerate Scientific Research and Strengthen National Security
Centers Bring Government and Industry Engineers Together to Advance Large-Scale Scientific Applications Leveraging OpenPOWER Innovations for “Summit” and “Sierra” Systems

International Supercomputing Conference, Frankfurt, Germany - 13 Jul 2015: IBM (NYSE: IBM) along with NVIDIA and two U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories today announced a pair of Centers of Excellence for supercomputing – one at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the other at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The collaborations are in support of IBM’s supercomputing contract with the U.S. Department of Energy. They will enable advanced, large-scale scientific and engineering applications both for supporting DOE missions, and for the Summit and Sierra supercomputer systems to be delivered respectively to Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore in 2017 and to be operational in 2018.

As the new supercomputers are being readied for installation, the Centers of Excellence will prepare the way for their optimum use in scientific research in such critical areas as energy, climate research, cosmology, biophysics, astrophysics and medicine, as well as in national nuclear security and other national security interests.

In an era of increasing global competition in high performance computing, the Centers are designed to enable the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories to sustain innovation leadership in science and technology while also driving down energy consumption and costs of computing. 

At each of the Centers, teams of technologists will gain crucial application perspective that will complement the hardware and software development of Summit and Sierra and will enable application readiness at the time of installation. Early application code innovation, executed in tandem with the system development, allows important two-way feedback between the system developers and the application writers. This will ensure that the ongoing system design will correctly and effectively support necessary user applications.

Incorporating IBM’s advanced POWER processors with next-generation NVIDIA® Tesla® GPU accelerators and the NVIDIA NVLink™ high-speed processor interconnect, Summit and Sierra will use a highly efficient, high-performance data-centric computing approach that minimizes data in motion, thereby helping to optimize problem solving and time to solution while also greatly reducing overall energy consumption.

“Application code innovation is a vital component of making sure our facilities are prepared to take advantage of the performance of the new supercomputers,” said Michel McCoy, Program Director for Advanced Simulation and Computing at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “By partnering with IBM and NVIDIA, the Centers of Excellence bring together the people who know the science, the people who know the code, and the people who know the machines – ensuring we are innovating across the board so that Sierra and Summit will be primed to achieve their missions for national security and scientific advancement as soon as they’re delivered.”

In addition to their data-centric design, the systems follow an OpenPOWER design concept that uses IBM’s open POWER architecture, as well as OpenPOWER Foundation member technology, including NVIDIA GPU and NVLink technologies, and Mellanox’s EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand system interconnect.. Applications developed at the Centers of Excellence will take full advantage of current and future innovations introduced by the growing OpenPOWER community of developers led in part by over 145 OpenPOWER Foundation members worldwide. Code innovations realized at the Centers will also benefit general purpose OpenPOWER-based commercial systems to be introduced by IBM and others. 

A Collaborative Approach to Application Code Innovation

The two Centers of Excellence collaborations are uniquely set up to support each of the Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore labs’ specific missions. With each, key computational scientists from IBM and NVIDIA work closely with the applications scientists from the labs to develop tools and technologies that will optimize codes and achieve the best performance on Summit, Sierra and other general use systems that follow the OpenPOWER design concept. Together, the teams are developing new ways to think about the programming models, algorithms, applications and computer performance.

“The work accomplished through the Centers of Excellence will be a milestone in our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Dave Turek, IBM Vice President of HPC Market Engagement. “It is about more than just delivering our new data-centric OpenPOWER-based hardware systems. Along with NVIDIA, our scientists are ensuring Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore are able to get the most out of these revolutionary supercomputers to reach the next level of scientific discovery. In addition, our expectation is that many of the codes that are worked on will find benefit in other sectors of the U.S. economy.”

The work of the Centers of Excellence is managed by a technical steering group, which includes participants from IBM, NVIDIA and from Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories. This collaborative approach is designed to ensure that critical applications are able to run on all of the U.S. Department of Energy’s supercomputers.

Shaping Future Scientific Discovery

Work is already underway to update and develop applications that have the potential to shape scientific discovery for years to come.  Center of Excellence scientists will support development of at least 13 applications for Oak Ridge’s Summit supercomputer. These applications were recently selected through the Center for Accelerated Application Readiness (CAAR) program. Summit and its applications will support the Office of Science in its science and energy mission, advancing knowledge in critical areas of government, academia and industry. The modeling and simulation applications span the sciences, from cosmology to biophysics to astrophysics. One of Oak Ridge’s applications will focus on advancing Earth system models for climate research while another will map the Earth’s interior using big data for seismology research.

At Lawrence Livermore’s Center of Excellence, IBM and NVIDIA experts will provide expert knowledge and understanding of the accelerated architecture to help national security applications evolve rapidly to support the safety, reliability and security of the nuclear stockpile. These experts will also support efforts in a broad range of computational science areas of importance to national security, for instance bio-security, energy security and global warming.

The Centers of Excellence are leveraging current IBM Power Systems and OpenPOWER-based technologies for the required programming efforts, with the first prototype of the advanced supercomputers expected to be available to system developers and application writers in late 2015. The Centers of Excellence will continue to deploy updated prototype systems in order to ensure the ongoing system design will correctly and effectively support the optimized applications.

Contact(s) information

Kristin Bryson
IBM Media Relations
1 (914) 766-4221

George Millington
1 (408) 562-7226

Lynda Seaver
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
1 (925) 423-3103

Jeff Gary
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
1 (865) 574-8066

Related resources


The Center of Excellence that will be established at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (pictured above) will enable advanced, large-scale scientific and engineering applications to ensure optimization of the Sierra supercomputer. At Lawrence Livermore’s Center of Excellence, experts will support efforts in national security, including bio-security, energy security and global warming. (Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Lab)

IBM, NVIDIA establish a Center of Excellence at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (pictured above). The collaboration will support the development of applications for Oak Ridge’s Summit supercomputer, which will help advance climate and seismology research. (Credit: Oak Ridge National Lab)

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