Computation Institute announces Beagle landing

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Beagle, a new supercomputer for biomedical simulation and data analysis, has arrived thanks to a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Centre for Research Resources (NCRR).

The Computation Institute (CI), a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), has announced the introduction of a 150 teraflops, 18,000-core Cray XE6 supercomputer that will support computation, simulation and data analysis for the biomedical research community.  

Named after HMS Beagle, the system will be housed in the new Theory and Computing Sciences (TCS) building at Argonne and will be available for use by university researchers, their collaborators and other investigators nationwide. ‘Innovative research requires access to the latest technologies,’ said NCRR director Barbara Alving. ‘This high-performance tool will serve as a core resource that will help ensure scientists remain at the forefront of modern biomedical research.’ 

The unique capabilities of the system will help basic, translational, and clinical research leading to improved diagnostic strategies and medical treatment. It is scheduled to be in the TCS machine room by the end of the year, with initial operation, for early adopters, set for the 202nd anniversary of Darwin’s birthday on 12 February 2011. Beagle should be placed into full production by the second quarter of the calendar year.  

Ian Foster, director of the CI and principal investigator for the project, with the university's team of technical and domain specialists, identified the need for a powerful computational environment that would serve the growing resource-intensive requirements of the biomedical research community. ‘Computation is fundamentally changing the nature of research in most disciplines, and biomedical researchers with access to advanced computational resources are more likely to make transformative progress,’ said Foster. ‘We are excited about the opportunity to advance the biomedicine research frontier and greatly appreciate the support of the NIH-NCRR for this initiative.’ 

Beagle is expected to be among the top 50 fastest supercomputers in the world and will be one of the fastest systems fully devoted to life sciences. It uses a unique combination of AMD multicore processors, Cray’s powerful Gemini system interconnect, and 3D torus topology in an infrastructure designed to scale to more than one million processor cores. With future investments, Beagle can be upgraded to achieve sustained petaflops performance.