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Rice U 25,000-Core Supercomputer To Power Up in May

Rice University is doubling the number of supercomputing hours it can offer its researchers with the addition of a new IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer, which will become operational in May. Rice and IBM are sharing the cost of the system, and Rice will be sharing its administration and use with the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil.

The as-yet-unnamed supercomputer, developed in part at IBM's labs in Austin, TX and the first to be built in that state, is a six-rack system containing nearly 25,000 processor cores. It's capable of conducting around 85 trillion mathematical computations per second.

The supercomputer enables researchers to run simulations or examine huge databases in a fraction of the time it would take to complete those tasks on a typical desktop or laptop computer because the supercomputer can divide the task among its thousands of processors. "For individual faculty, the supercomputer will open the door to new areas of research," said George McLendon, Rice Provost, in a prepared statement.

Researchers at Rice will use it to study energy, geophysics, basic life sciences, cancer research, personalized medicine, and other topics. "This new computing capability will speed the search for new sources of energy, new ways of maximizing current energy sources, new cancer drugs, and new routes to personalized medicine," said Tony Befi, IBM senior state executive for Texas, in a prepared statement. Researchers at USP will use the system to study astronomy, weather prediction, particle physics, and biotechnology.

This is the third new supercomputer in the last two years to be implemented at Rice University in collaboration with IBM. This one is expected to place in the top 300 of the world's fastest supercomputers as measured by the TOP500 supercomputer rankings. IBM's Blue Gene family of supercomputers won the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2009.

Rice University is located in Houston, TX. It serves more than 3,700 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students and employs more than 1,000 full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty members who teach and conduct research in Rice's schools of architecture, continuing studies, engineering, humanities, business, music, natural sciences, and social sciences.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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