Revolutionizing Science with Petascale Computing

Leadership-Class Computers

The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) currently boasts of having the largest open-science computer in the world - the IBM Blue Gene/P - based on the June 2008 Top 500 designations. The Blue Gene/P is available to researchers as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) INCITE (Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment) program. Studies on the ALCF are under way in a multitude of fields, such as protein structure, fluid dynamics, aircraft engine combustor simulation, materials science, astrophysics, and climate modeling. Many of these studies involve collaborating with research teams in other national laboratories, universities, and industry.

Experimental Systems

Continuing its long track record in exploring innovative computer technology, Argonne currently operates a 6000-processor SiCortex 5.8 teraflop machine. The SiCortex is being used to explore the question: Can such a novel architecture can provide a breakthrough to exaflops? Current research and development targets multiple aspects of scalable high-performance computing, especially languages, libraries, and system software. Argonne has also held a number of workshops, in collaboration with SiCortex staff, to introduce users to the architecture, software, profiling tools, and applications.

Scalable Parallel Software

Argonne has a rich history of innovation and discovery in computer science. Below are some of our key contributions in numerical and systems software.

  • PETSc - tools for the parallel numerical solution of partial differential equations. PETSc has been used to solve algebraic systems for over 3 billion unknowns, with scaling to over 27,000 processes on the DOE leadership-class computers. In 2008, the PETSc library was named as one of the top10 accomplishments of the DOE Office of Advanced Computing Research.
  • MPICH2 - the most widely used message-passing library in the world. As the vendor-supported MPI for petascale platforms such as IBM’s Blue Gene/L and Cray’s XT3, it has demonstrated robustness and scalability. MPICH2 earned an R&D100 award in 2005.
  • PVFS2 - a scalable parallel file system that achieves exceptional performance by enabling files to be striped across multiple disks and servers. Designed specifically for high-performance computing workloads, PVFS2 can leverage application parallelism to attain maximum speed. On DOE leadership-class systems.
  • ZeptoOS - a small Linux for big computers, used in production at several BG/L computing sites. ZeptoOS runs on both the Cray XT3 and the IBM Blue Gene/L and includes the PVFS components.

Argonne is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC.