Initial Tests of Blue Waters Supercomputer Excite Scientists

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Barbara Jewett writes that a brief but tantalizing test run of the Blue Waters sustained petascale supercomputer earlier this year has left researchers eagerly awaiting full deployment.

The Blue Waters Early Science System (BW-ESS) was only about 15 percent of the full machine as it consisted of 48 cabinets with 4,512 XE6 compute nodes and 96 service nodes and a Sonexion Lustre Storage Appliance provided two petabytes of disk storage. But that was enough to allow researchers to test the technology used in Blue Waters and identify and fix software bugs and other issues that prevented some codes from successfully scaling. The results for many of the teams were astounding. Klaus Schulten, a biophysisist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign perhaps sums it up best in his report: “Not in our wildest dreams could we have imagined the greatness of the new NSF center machine. We are sure Blue Waters will make science and engineering history.”

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