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Supercomputer Center Comes to RPI Tech Park

Posted February 06, 2008 6:00 AM by Sharkles
Pathfinder Tags: IBM nanotechnology RPI supercomputer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has teamed up with IBM and New York State to form a $100 million partnership, creating the world's most powerful university-based supercomputing center. The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI) is based in the Rensselaer Technology Park, which is also home to CR4's parent company, GlobalSpec.

The CCNI houses the 12th fastest supercomputer in the world. This ranking is done by "standard linkpack", and is based on a benchmark from a supercomputing website. The CCNI facility is designed to continue advancing how biotechnology is seen by electronics manufacturers, and to extend its uses to other industries. Importantly, the CCNI eliminates the need to perform expensive prototyping. Instead, businesses can now do their prototyping virtually. This allows manufacturers to "do it right the first time" and can help simulate the manufacturing process.

According to Omkaram (Om) Nalamasu, Vice President for Research at Rensselaer, "The CCNI will bring together university and industry researchers under one roof to conduct a broad range of computational simulations, from the interactions between atoms and molecules up to the behavior of the complete device. This will help enable the semiconductor industry to bridge the gaps between fundamental device science, design, and manufacturing at the nanoscale."

Nanotechnology-focused industries can join up with the CCNI by way of a partnership program. Members of this program include semiconductor manufacturers, systems integrators, equipment makers, software providers, and materials manufacturers. CCNI membership provides access to the supercomputing environment, the opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the computational nanotechnology field, and the ability to identify research areas for the center.

At an open-house, a group of GlobalSpec employees (including some bloggers from CR4) were given a tour of the new facilities. Architecturally, there is an attractive, public space near the building's entrance. The computer room is on a higher level so that the cooling pipes can run under the floor. Large windows provide clear views and a sense of proportion. The pillars in the facility are shaped like Blue Gene computers, and there is a lattice ceiling throughout much of the building for architectural effect.

The supercomputer at the CCNI consists of a series of IBM BlueGene/L systems, containing a total of 32,768 Power OC 440 700 MHz processors. Additionally, there is an array of Linux power-based machines and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Opteron processor-based clusters sharing a common file system with the main supercomputer. Combined, these systems create over 100 Teraflops of computational power associated with high-speed networking and storage. The CCNI connects to the Rensselaer campus and the NYSERNet optical research infrastructure. This allows gigabit connections to the Internet, Internet2, National LambdaRail (NLR), and most research networks in the world.

More information about the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations can be found on the following websites:

Additional Resources:
http://www.top500.org/list/2007/11/100
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_Center_for_Nanotechnology_Innovations
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do
http://www.rpitechpark.com/

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