November 21, 2006
ECE Systems Scientist Franz Franchetti was part of a research team that won a Gordon Bell Award, presented to innovators who advance high-performance computing. Gordon Bell was one of the founding fathers of supercomputing. The winning publication, "Large-Scale Electronic Structure Calculations of High-Z Metals on the BlueGene/L Platform," was selected for the award under the category of "peak performance based on sustained floating point operations per second."
The project's quantum simulation code, called Qbox, demonstrated a sustained performance of 207.3 Teraflop/s (207.3 x 1012 flop/s) using all 131,072 processors of the world's largest computer, BlueGene/L, installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
According to a LLNL news release, the large-scale electronic structure simulation was conducted on the heavy metal molybdenum, a high-Z metal which is of interest to scientists with the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Stockpile Stewardship Program. The NNSA aims to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent without underground testing. Simulations are used to better understand the effects of aging on nuclear materials.
Qbox software has also been applied to high-pressure simulations of liquids, semiconductor nanostructures, and other materials science studies. Participants in the Qbox group, led by François Gygi of UC Davis, also include scientists at the LLNL, IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, and the Institute of Analysis and Scientific Computing at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria.
Last year, the entry was a runner-up in the Gordon Bell Award competition. This year's honor was presented at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC06) earlier this month in Tampa. The event's website notes, "Gordon Bell Prizes recognize groundbreaking achievements for performance and scalability in several categories on genuine and specific scientific applications."
Sources: Electronic Structure Laboratory, UC Davis, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory News Release
2006 Gordon Bell Award winners for “Peak Performance” (from left) Franz Franchetti, François Gygi, Erik Draeger, Martin Schulz, and Bronis de Supinksi. Image source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.