The National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS), a joint project between the University of Tennessee (UT) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has upgraded its Kraken Cray XT5 supercomputer to achieve a peak performance of 1.03 petaflops. The upgraded Kraken system, backed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is the first academic supercomputer to achieve petaflop capability and ranks among the top five computers in the world. Kraken's 129 terabytes of memory also will make it an essential tool for NSF computing, says NICS project director Phil Andrews. He says that Kraken "will allow academic users to treat problems that were previously inaccessible."
One project that UT astrophysicist Bronson Messer hopes to undertake is the study of supernovas. This requires three separate phenomena to be replicated on Kraken. "With petascale capability, we can simulate all three phenomena simultaneously with significant realism," Messer says. "This brings us closer to understanding the explosion mechanism and being able to make meaningful predictions."
Kraken is part of TeraGrid, a supercomputer network run by the NSF. "While reaching the petascale is a remarkable achievement in itself, the real strides will be made in the new science that petascale computing will enable," says NICS principal investigator and UT professor Thomas Zacharia. "Kraken is a game changer for research."
From National Institute for Computational Sciences
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