NERSCPowering Scientific Discovery for 50 Years

DOE INCITE Program Awards Large Allocations at NERSC to Study Supernovae, Fusion Energy, Climate Change, Combustion, Chemistry and Accelerator Design

January 8, 2007

BERKELEY, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that it has allocated a large amount of supercomputing resources from the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as part of an initiative to accelerate scientific research and promote innovations in public institutions and private industry.

Supported by DOE's Office of Science, seven research projects will receive nearly nine million processor hours at NERSC in 2007. The projects range from studying the behavior of a supernova to designing more energy-efficient cars.

The allocations are part of a fast-growing program called Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE), which launched in 2003. INCITE selects projects that not only require large-scale and intensive use of computers but also promise to deliver a significant advance in science and engineering. For 2007, the program awarded 95 million processor hours for 45 projects overall, a five-fold increase in computing time awarded from 2006.

“We believe there is a great opportunity for significant design analysis productivity improvements through the use of HPC. Due to the extremely large capital cost required, this has been traditionally difficult to justify, and thus never attempted,” said Paul Bemis from Fluent Inc., an engineering software firm based in Lebanon, New Hampshire and an INCITE award recipient working with General Motors. “The INCITE award provides the opportunity to realize the potential productivity improvements and allows a factual and more quantitative analysis of the HPC benefits.”

NERSC, where Bemis will carry out his research, is one of the four supercomputer centers providing resources for these INCITE projects. As the flagship facility for the Office of Science, NERSC provided the only computing resources available during the first two years of the program. Here are short descriptions of the seven projects awarded computing time at NERSC:

  • The project by Fluent Inc., in partnership with General Motors, will use its computational fluid dynamics software to perform intensive calculations for designing different parts of a car.
  • Gilbert Compo from the University of Colorado, along with researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use a new technique to create a more representative dataset for validating certain climate models. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is using the climate models to make 21st-century projections in its fourth assessment report, due out later this year.
  • Hong Im of the University of Michigan will lead the work on developing three-dimensional simulations of turbulent nonpremixed flames in the presence of a mean flow strain and fine water droplets.
  • Warren Mori from the University of California at Los Angeles will lead research on using computer simulations to answer questions about plasma-based particle accelerators that currently cannot be answered through experiments. The project will contribute to the development of better acceleration methods.
  • Chuang Ren at the University of Rochester, along with Mori from UCLA, will create large-scale particle-in-cell simulations to test fast ignition, one of the most promising new schemes to improve the viability of inertial confinement fusion as a practical energy source.
  • Lawrence Pratt at Fisk University plans to unravel the mysteries of several lithium compounds that are among the best reagents for forming carbon-carbon bonds in organic synthesis, which can lead to the development of powerful medicines. The project will look at the structures and reactions of these compounds.
  • Don Lamb, a researcher at the University of Chicago's ASC/Alliance Flash Center, will create three-dimensional simulations of a stellar explosion known as a Type Ia supernova. Understanding the mechanism of such explosion has been done in two-dimensional studies in the past.

“The INCITE award will make it possible for us to do huge computer simulations, whose goal is to pin down the explosion mechanism for Type Ia supernovae,” said Lamb. “A better understanding of these supernovae will enable astronomers to learn more about the properties of dark energy.”

The Office of Science is the nation's largest supporter of basic research in physical sciences.

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.