Grand Challenge Program Celebrates 10th Campaign

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Research projects ranging from ab initio investigation of fusion to atomistic simulation of shock-induced traumatic brain injury were among those allocated time on Laboratory supercomputers under the recently announced Institutional Unclassified Computing Grand Challenge Awards. The 10th Annual Computing Grand Challenge campaign has just awarded more than 16 million CPU-hours per week to projects that address compelling, large-scale problems, push the envelope of capability computing, and advance science. 

“The Grand Challenge program encourages Lab scientists to leverage our high performance computing expertise developed for stockpile stewardship to advance a broad range of science critical to the nation,” said Dona Crawford, associate director for  Computation.

Teams with winning proposals, as determined by internal and external referees, were allocated time on Sierra, a 261-teraFLOP/s machine, and Vulcan, a 5-petaFLOP/s machine. Sierra and Vulcan are systems dedicated to unclassified research through LLNL’s Multiprogrammatic and Institutional Computing program. Central processing unit or CPU time is measured across the multiple CPUs in a computer. For example, two CPU hours can be one CPU used for two hours or two CPUs used for one hour. High-performance computers generally consist of thousands of CPUs; the Sierra system has 1,944 nodes each with 12 cores, for a total of 23,328 cores, while Vulcan has 24,576 nodes each with 16 cores, for a total of 393,216 cores.

“The Computing Grand Challenge program represents a significant investment in the Lab’s research capability—extending the boundaries of computational science,” said Pat Falcone, deputy director for Science and Technology. “I am pleased with the depth and breadth of this year’s awarded proposals and look forward to the discoveries that will result.”

Over the last 18 years, high-performance computing resources dedicated to unclassified research have increased more than 10,000-fold from 72 gigaFLOPS in 1997 to more than 5 petaFLOPS today. To put that in perspective, only nine countries in the world possess more computing resources than LLNL makes available for unclassified computing.