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Mira supercomputer dedicated at Argonne National Laboratory

The dedication of the new Mira supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory was led by US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who emphasised the importance of high-performance computing to scientific research, industrial innovation and the US’ economic future.

‘Argonne National Laboratory is one of Illinois' and the country's great assets,’ said Durbin. ‘Mira ensures the lab remains a linchpin of scientific research, enabling researchers to tackle extremely complex challenges ranging from improving combustion efficiency in car engines to modelling the progression of deadly diseases in the human body. High-performance computing is crucial to US economic growth and competitiveness, saving time, money and energy, boosting our national security and strengthening our economy.

‘If the United States is to remain a leader in the 21st century, we need to continue investing in the science and innovation that will address our growing energy and environmental demands while building the industries of the future,’ he added.

Mira, an IBM Blue Gene/Q system, consists of 48 racks of computers, 786,432 processors and 768 terabytes of memory and is capable of 10 quadrillion calculations per second – making it the fifth-fastest supercomputer in the world. To put those capabilities in perspective, Mira is 20 times faster than its IBM Blue Gene/P predecessor at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), Intrepid, which was ranked third in the world when it was installed in 2008. Mira also represents a great step forward in green computing; with a highly efficient water-cooling system, it operates five times more efficiently than Intrepid.

Installation of the Mira system began in January 2012 and took nearly eight months. In August, ALCF’s Early Science Program (ESP) began gearing up to make sure the supercomputer was ready to hit the ground running. The ESP allocated pre-production time to 16 research projects chosen to help prepare key scientific applications for the architecture and scale of Mira, paving the way for even greater scientific results.

Argonne director, Eric D. Isaacs; associate laboratory director, Rick Stevens; and David Turek, vice president for Exascale Computing at IBM, also spoke at the dedication ceremony.

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