New Supercomputer Will Focus Solely on Energy Research

BlueM’s predecessor, RA supercomputer at Colorado School of Mines has been ranked No. 134 in the 31st TOP500 Supercomputer List (Credit: Supercomputing Laboratory, University of California, Riverside)
BlueM’s predecessor, RA supercomputer at Colorado School of Mines has been ranked No. 134 in the 31st TOP500 Supercomputer List (Credit: Supercomputing Laboratory, University of California, Riverside)

A new water-cooled 155 teraflop supercomputer dubbed “BlueM” will allow scientists at the Colorado School of Mines to run large simulations in support of the university’s core research areas while operating at the forefront of algorithm development using a powerful hybrid system.

The system will be housed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in a major new collaboration between the two organizations. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Mines research to be conducted on BlueM includes biomass conversion and the stability of biomass fuels, fuel cells, fundamental battery research, hydrate nucleation, wind energy, hydropower, carbon sequestration, solar cells and material science applicable to solar cells including nanostructures and nanowires, fission reactor design, the environmental impact of the pine beetle infestation, atmospheric scattering effecting climate, interactions between surface and ground water, and seismic modeling.

BlueM’s predecessor, RA, has been hugely successful but Mines has outgrown its 23 teraflops. BlueM will provide a greater number of flops dedicated to Mines faculty and students than are available at most other institutions with high performance machines. Researchers will be able to run higher fidelity simulations than in the past, get more time on the machine and break new ground in terms of algorithm development.

The new machine, housed at NCAR’s Mesa Lab in Boulder but operating on Mines’ computing network, is unique among high performance computers in the area. It features a dual architecture system combining the IBM BlueGene Q and IBM iDataplex platforms—the first instance of this configuration being installed together.

Since the two compute partitions are optimized for different calculations, Mines and its partner institution, NCAR, will conduct research on ways to combine the two to do multi-physics modeling mostly focused on climate and the earth.

BlueM technical specs:

  • Requires only 85kW of electrical power
  • Occupies a 20-foot by 8-foot footprint
  • Consists of five racks (three compute racks, a management rack and a file system rack)
  • Consists of two partitions: MC2 (pronounced “Energy”) runs on an IBM Blue GeneQ and AuN (pronounced “Golden”) is based on the IBM iDataplex platform
  • 155 teraflops (more than 104 in MC2 and 50 in AuN)
  • 17.4 terabytes of memory, 10,496 cores in 656 nodes and 480 terabytes of disk

The above story is based on or reprinted from materials provided by Colorado School of Mines.

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