Blue Waters signals new wave in supercomputing

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The US National Science Foundation-funded Blue Waters, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, has been formally declared available for use at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The ceremony was attended by corporate, government and university leaders.

Blue Waters, a partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF), the State of Illinois, the University of Illinois and the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation, is capable at peak performance of nearly 12 quadrillion floating point operations per second – and, more importantly, has demonstrated sustained system performance of more than one petaflop on a range of commonly-used science and engineering applications.

This capability puts Blue Waters in a class of its own, says NSF. By balancing processor performance characteristics with memory and storage attributes, it offers usable and efficient petaflop performance for large-scale scientific applications at the frontiers of computational science.

Early research on Blue Waters already is addressing problems that are much larger and more complex than those modelled to date, and is already providing unprecedented insights.

'Blue Waters is an example of a high-risk, high-reward research infrastructure project that will enable NSF to achieve its mission of funding basic research at the frontiers of science,' said NSF acting director Cora Marrett. 'Its impact on science and engineering discoveries and innovation, as well as on national priorities, such as health, safety and well-being, will be extraordinary.'