Team receives highest computing award at SC19 for quantum nanotransport simulations on Summit, the world’s most powerful supercomputer

A team from ETH Zürich has been awarded the 2019 Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM’s) Gordon Bell Prize for its work simulating quantum transport—or the transport of electric charge carriers through nanoscale materials—on the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s (OLCF’s) IBM AC922 Summit.

The ACM Gordon Bell Prize tracks the progress of parallel computing and is awarded to recognize outstanding achievement in high-performance computing. The team was awarded the prize today at the 2019 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis, or SC19, in Denver.

The researchers, led by ETH Zürich associate professor Torsten Hoefler, simulated a 2D transistor slice to develop a map of where heat is produced in a single transistor—a feat they could be used to inform the production of new semiconductors with optimal heat-evacuating properties. Employing the OLCF’s 200-petaflop Summit supercomputer, the team simulated a 10,000-atom system and reached a sustained performance of 85.45 petaflops for double precision and 90.89 petaflops for mixed precision. With the simulation, the team also demonstrated a new successful new programming model that allows a programmer to interact with a visual representation of data movement to optimize a code.

“This is a fundamental departure from everything that’s been done before in code optimization, and we’re really hoping to develop the next generation of parallel programming capabilities and techniques,” Hoefler said, of the new model.

The OLCF, located at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, hosts Summit, a system that has claimed the No. 1 spot on each Top500 list since its debut in June 2018—including the most recent list announced on November 18.

The project team also included Alexandros Nikolaos Ziogas, Tal Ben-Nun, Guillermo Indalecio Fernandez, Timo Schneider, and Mathieu Luisier—all of ETH Zürich.

Read more about Hoefler’s science:

A team led by ETH Zürich associate professor Torsten Hoefler simulated a 2D transistor slice to inform the production of new semiconductors with optimal heat-evacuating properties. Video Credit: Kase Clapp, ORNL; Rachel McDowell, ORNL

UT-Battelle LLC manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit