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School of Mines digs deep for new supercomputer

Colorado School of Mines’ new 155 teraflop supercomputer, dubbed 'BlueM', will allow researchers to run large simulations in support of the university’s core research areas, while operating on the forefront of algorithm development using a powerful hybrid system.

The system will be housed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in a major new collaboration between the two organisations. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Mines research to be conducted on BlueM includes biomass conversion and the stability of biomass fuels, fuel cells, fundamental battery research, hydrate nucleation, wind energy, hydropower, carbon sequestration, solar cells and material science applicable to solar cells including nanostructures and nanowires, fission reactor design, the environmental impact of the pine beetle infestation, atmospheric scattering effecting climate, interactions between surface and ground water, and seismic modelling.

BlueM’s predecessor, RA, has been successful but Mines has outgrown its 23 teraflops. BlueM will provide a greater number of flops dedicated to Mines faculty and students than are available at most other institutions with high-performance machines. Researchers will be able to run higher fidelity simulations than in the past, get more time on the machine and break new ground in terms of algorithm development.

The new machine, housed at NCAR’s Mesa Lab in Boulder but operating on Mines’ computing network, features a dual architecture system combining the IBM BlueGene Q and IBM iDataplex platforms – the first instance of this configuration being installed together.

Since the two compute partitions are optimised for different calculations, Mines and its partner institution, NCAR, will conduct research on ways to combine the two to do multi-physics modelling mostly focused on climate and the earth.

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