NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

Berkeley Lab Dedicates First Oakland City Facility

The new Oakland Scientific Facility will be home to the world's most powerful unclassified supercomputers

May 24, 2001


Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Berkeley Lab Director Chuck Shank and James Decker of the DOE Office of Science officially connect the center to ESnet during the dedication of OSF.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s first off-site facility in the city of Oakland, which houses Computing Sciences employees and the high-performance computing and data storage systems of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), was dedicated by officials from the Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the city, and industry partners on Thursday, May 24.

Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Laboratory Director Charles Shank, Acting DOE Office of Science Director James Decker, and other dignitaries were scheduled to offer brief tributes.

The four-story Oakland Scientific Facility (OSF) at 415 20th St., designed by international architectural firm KMD of San Francisco, is on the site of a former Wells Fargo Bank building. It provides 16,000 square feet of computer area, with an additional 4,000 square feet to be built out over the next two years. The site was selected and leased in August 1999. Landlord Peter Wang and Encinal Broadway, LLC., performed extensive retrofitting on the building. The building was stripped down to its metal frame, then seismically reinforced and rebuilt with state-of-the-art facilities and systems for the exacting needs of a national computing center. NERSC moved its main systems and employees into the facility last October.

In January, NERSC installed its new 2,528-processor IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer, which is currently undergoing acceptance testing. When the IBM machine goes on line, it is expected to be the world’s most powerful unclassified supercomputer.


NERSC's DOE Oakland Scientific Facility (OSF) construction with David V. Tudor and Howard Walter.

The facility also houses a 696-processor Cray T3E supercomputer, three Cray SV1 machines and two cluster systems, the 278-processor Parallel Distributed Systems Facility for physics research and the new 160-processor IBM cluster. Researchers using NERSC computers archive their data in the High Performance Storage System (HPSS), which has capacity of 1.3 petabytes (a quadrillion bytes).

The supercomputer center is linked to ESnet, DOE’s Energy Sciences Network, which connects thousands of researchers at national laboratories, universities and research organizations around the country. Qwest Communications will provide performance levels up to a terabit (one million megabits/second) network by the year 2005, offering 500 times the highest speed available in the industry today.

ESnet is funded by DOE to provide advanced networking and communications support to the scientific research programs. Managed by Berkeley Lab, ESnet operates a backbone network connecting more than 30 major research sites.

The entire Oakland building is 27,000 square feet in size, with floors three and four slated to be occupied by employees from the University of California’s Office of the President.

The building boasts the latest in energy efficiency technologies. The office space consumes 32 percent less power than federal baselines with a variable-volume air handling system, light-sensitive window glass coatings, and high-efficiency lighting with automatic controls.  The computer room’s variable-speed chillers, pumps, fans, and electrical equipment use 60 percent less cooling energy than conventional design. Estimated total reduction in power demand saves enough energy to power 225 homes. Construction was completed by Turner Construction of Emeryville.

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.