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Posted: May 19, 2007

Nanotechnology supercomputing center

(Nanowerk News) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offered the first glimpse of what is planned to be the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputing center.
The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), the result of a $100 million partnership involving Rensselaer, IBM, and New York state, is designed to continue advancing semiconductor technology to the nanoscale, while also enabling key nanotechnology innovations in the fields of energy, biotechnology, arts, and medicine.
IBM Blue Gene Computer
IBM Blue Gene Computer
At the heart of the facility is an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer that will operate at more than 80 teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second). When fully operational, all of the components associated with the center will provide more than 100 teraflops of computing power. That amounts to about 15,000 calculations each second for every person in the world.
In an event at the Rensselaer Technology Park, the partners provided a sneak preview of the facility that will be at the heart of the center’s capabilities.
“As scientists and engineers continue to drive technology down to the nanoscale, the need for computing power grows by many orders of magnitude,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “This new center will provide unprecedented tools for simulating interactions among atoms and molecules, allowing researchers to model new nanotechnology-based products and to attack fundamental scientific questions at the nanoscale level, as well. This will be done, at this level, in much the same way as cars and planes are designed with computer models before they are built. We are grateful for the shared vision with Senator Joseph Bruno and John Kelly of IBM as we work together to explore new frontiers of supercomputing.”
“The creation of this supercomputer data center proves once again that New York’s Tech Valley is thriving in the global economy as a leader in high-tech research and development,” said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. “This project will make an enormous impact to the Upstate economy creating hundreds of new high-powered, high-paying employment opportunities for our brightest New Yorkers. It will also encourage our future generations to stay and live in New York to pursue successful careers and raise their families.”
“Nanotechnology increasingly will emerge as one of the key drivers of the global economy. Thanks to the close collaboration between industry, academia, and state government leaders, CCNI builds momentum behind New York’s drive to become the world’s leading center for nanotechnology,” said John E. Kelly III, IBM’s senior vice president of technology and intellectual property. “For years, RPI has been a home of breakthrough science. We’re confident the new IBM supercomputer will accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation for engineers, researchers and scientists.”
“The ability to design and manufacture smaller, cheaper, and faster semiconductor devices is crucial to sustaining Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors per a given area has doubled roughly every 18 to 24 months since the invention of the integrated circuit,” said John E. Kolb, vice president for information services and technology and chief information officer at Rensselaer. “This dictum has guided the chip industry for years, and manufacturers have fulfilled these requirements by continually shrinking the size of devices on semiconductor chips. The computational capabilities of this center provide an additional tool as our researchers produce new research and design innovations that will sustain this type of advancement in technology.”
Today’s circuit components measure about 90 nanometers (nm) in width, or 90 billionths of a meter. According to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, this needs to shrink to 45 nm by 2010, 32 nm by 2013, and 22nm by 2016. At these extremely tiny scales, manufacturers are faced with completely different physical phenomena from what they are used to working with.
CCNI will provide a platform for researchers to perform a broad range of computational simulations, from the interactions between atoms and molecules up to the behavior of the complete device. The center will be an important resource for companies of any size — from start-ups to established firms — to perform research that would be impossible without both the computing power and the expert researchers at CCNI.
Cadence Design Systems, a leader in electronic design automation software, and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a global supplier of integrated circuits for personal and networked computing and communications, intend to collaborate with Rensselaer and IBM in advanced simulation and modeling of nanoelectronic devices and circuitry. The funding for the project was coordinated by and will be administered through the Empire State Development Corporation.
The CCNI system will be made up of massively parallel Blue Gene supercomputers, POWER-based Linux clusters, and AMD Opteron processor-based clusters, providing more than 100 teraflops of computing power. This will put CCNI among the top 10 supercomputing centers of any kind, and make it the most powerful university-based center in the world.
Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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