A Little Planning (ok, a Lot) Goes A Long Way

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Berkeley Lab’s Deputy Director, Horst Simon

Berkeley Lab’s Deputy Director, Horst Simon

Back when the Titan supercomputer award was announced (October 2011), there was a slightly embarrassing and awkward period of time during which Oak Ridge had no solid plans for where the expanded Jaguar system would call home. The word on the street was that there was no room at the inn, and while the system development had funded, the budget for facility expansion at the Lab fell through the cracks. Facilities for exascale-class systems will require innovative, fresh thinking and can’t be treated as an afterthought. With the number of cabinets, processors, racks, cables, and power connections required, the facility work will need to start years ahead of the first systems being available.

The folks at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), demonstrating their usual keen understanding of strategic planning, not to mention the courage of their convictions, have announced plans for a new computing facility capable of eventually housing two exascale supercomputers.

LBNL has already broken ground for this ultra-modern 140,000 square foot facility to be perched on a hill above the UC Berkeley campus overlooking the San Francisco Bay. The new facility will be known as the Computational Research and Theory center and will be capable of supporting 300 staff members and two exascale-class supercomputers. We like this positive approach and forward-thinking attitude.

The Exascale Report asked Berkeley Lab’s Deputy Director, Horst Simon, to speak about the importance of this development. Simon had this to say: “This building will be an important milestone for Berkeley Lab, for DOE, and for the country on the road to Exascale. Berkeley Lab and the University of California have made a huge commitment to computational science, and reinforced the role that it will play in advancing science in Berkeley, both at the lab and on campus. CRT is an extremely energy efficient building that can accommodate two exascale computers, and is at a site that has up to 100 MW of inexpensive power available. CRT will also house 300 researchers in computational science, computer science, and applied mathematics. Together with NERSC’s goal to host the first widely usable Exascale computer, and ESnet moving the DOE community towards Terabit/s networking, the CRT building will define what it means to have a productive environment for computational science at the exascale.”

Simon continued, “In short, I believe there is no other location that combines available space, low power, high bandwidth networking, 300 top researchers in computational science, and exascale computing.”

For related stories, visit The Exascale Report Archives.