Jack Wells, director of science at the OLCF, organized the Accelerating Computational Science Symposium 2012.

ACSS 2012 gathers novel platform’s best, brightest

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which operates the premier leadership computing facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, gathered experts in science, engineering, and computing from around the world to discuss research advances that are now possible with extreme-scale hybrid supercomputers. The nearly 100 attendees of the Accelerating Computational Science Symposium 2012 (ACSS 2012), held March 28–30 in Washington, D.C., explored how hybrid supercomputers speed discoveries, such as deeper understanding of phenomena from earthquakes to supernovas, and innovations, such as next-generation catalysts, materials, engines, and reactors. “The symposium [was] motivated by society’s great need for advances in energy technologies and by the demonstrated achievements and tremendous potential for computational science and engineering,” said Jack Wells, director of science at the OLCF, which co-hosted ACSS 2012 with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS). Additional sponsors were Cray Inc., and NVIDIA.

Hybrid supercomputers combine traditional central processing units (CPUs) with high-performance, energy-efficient graphics processing units (GPUs). Delivering dramatic gains in computational performance and power efficiency compared with CPU-only systems, they enable researchers to accelerate a broad range of computationally intensive applications exploring the natural world, from subatomic particles to the vast cosmos, and the engineered world, from turbines to advanced fuels. The hybrid architecture is the foundation of ORNL’s “Titan” supercomputer, which will reach 20 petaflops of performance by the end of this year. Marianne Lavelle of National Geographic covered the symposium and Titan’s potential for accelerating science. Read her story at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/04/120430-titan-supercomputing-for-energy-efficiency/.