RENCI Blue Gene/L Purchase propels North Carolina to forefront in high performance computing

The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), a multidisciplinary institute affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke and North Carolina State universities, has acquired an IBM Blue Gene®/L computing system that will give scientists and business researchers computing power never before available in North Carolina, IBM and RENCI announced today.

“Resources of this caliber make breakthrough research possible,” said RENCI Director Dan Reed. “You simply can’t address multidisciplinary problems, such as the relationship among genetics, environment and disease, without world-class high performance computers. This resource will enable a new generation of discoveries in science and help North Carolina businesses compete globally, develop innovative new products and bring them to market more quickly.”

“IBM Blue Gene has once again risen as the computational system of choice to tackle some of the most compelling, demanding problems facing scientists today,” said Dave Turek, vice president of Deep Computing at IBM, the world’s largest information technology company. “RENCI’s important areas of study, in diverse areas such as the fight against cancer, hurricane prediction and environmental impact studies are ideal applications for the world-record performance of the Blue Gene system.”

The system, which will rank among the top 80 supercomputers in the world, has been given the moniker Ocracoke after the Ocracoke Lighthouse on the North Carolina coast, which has guided sailors around the Outer Banks since 1823. It will be used for creating complex models and simulations and for analyzing and managing massive data sets. It will have a peak performance of 5.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second),  and  will consist of 1,024 compute nodes running the Linux operating system, each with two, 700 MHz PowerPC 440 processors with 1 gigabyte (GB) of memory.

The 1 GB of node memory, double the memory per node of previous Blue Gene systems, expands the range of compute-intensive applications that will run on the system. The single-rack system will use the Global Tree network to transfer and process data between nodes at a bandwidth of 2.1 GBs per second. The system also includes 11 terabytes of disk storage.

Ocracoke also will play a role in RENCI’s plans to create models of natural and man-made disasters to help federal, state, and local agencies. Businesses that partner with RENCI will have the opportunity to use the system for a wide range of functions, from designing new products to mining large datasets in order to better understand customer behaviors and predict industry trends.

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RENCI…Catalyst for Innovation
The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) is a catalyst for innovation in science, engineering, the arts, humanities, and commerce. It fosters multidisciplinary collaborations by leveraging and applying leading edge compute, network, and data information technology resources and capabilities. RENCI is a joint institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State University that combines the strengths of these three institutions with the social, business and research opportunities of the Research Triangle Park and the state of North Carolina.