NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

NERSC Offers More Powerful Computer Resources to Researchers

September 8, 1999

In late August, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) officially accepted an array of three SGI/Cray SV1 supercomputers after a month of testing.

The new SV1 computers perform, on average, three times  as fast as the Cray J90se machines they replace. According to SGI/Cray, NERSC was one of the first centers to receive certified production models of the SV1.

"These SV1 supercomputer will aid our scientific users in their work on some of the most important problems facing science today," said Horst Simon, director of NERSC, which has been located at Berkeley Lab since 1996. "For example, in the area of climate research, more accurate and detailed models of the earth's climate are giving us a better understanding of the effects of human activity on our global environment."

The computers will be used by DOE-sponsored climate researchers to gauge the effect of greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols on the atmosphere. The NERSC staff recently ported the Climate System Model (CSM) to the Cray SVI.  Developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), CSM analyzes conditions in the atmosphere, ocean, land surface and sea ice to create a comprehensive model of overall climate change.The SV1 is Cray's newest computer and is described as the company's first scalable vector supercomputer, combining powerful processors with the "scalability" features necessary to link large numbers of processors together. During acceptance testing, the new computers were available more than 99 percent of the time.

Stephen Jardin, the principal investigator at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, has been a long-time user of the NERSC supercomputers and is presently chair of NERSC's Program Advisory Committee. He and others in his field have been eagerly looking forward to using the SV1 since its procurement was announced. "Many of our most complex design and simulation codes employ algorithms that are particularly well-suited to the SV1's parallel vector architecture." said Jardin. "We expect to be able to make very effective use of these machines immediately, and are excited about the new research possibilities that they open for us."

Leading the acceptance testing effort were Jackie Scoggins and Tina Declerck of NERSC’s Computational Systems Group, Majdi Baddourah and Dave Turner of NERSC’s User Services Group, and SGI/Cray personnel Bob Thurman, Terence Brewer, Bill Contento and Mike Stewart. Clayton Bagwell of NERSC's Computer Operations Network Support Group was the official timetracker for the evaluation.

About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.