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Academic researchers, U.S. companies invited to apply for time on Blue Waters

The National Science Foundation is currently soliciting proposals from researchers who are interested in tackling challenging science and engineering problems using Blue Waters, a sustained petascale supercomputer that will come online in 2011 at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Time on Blue Waters will be awarded through the National Science Foundation’s Petascale Computing Resource Allocation (PRAC) program.

The PRAC competition is open to the academic community, government laboratories, and industry.

The next deadline to submit PRAC proposals is March 17, 2010.

“Eighteen teams from more than 30 institutions are already working with NCSA through the PRAC program. Earthquake engineers, chemists, biologists, severe weather experts are preparing the codes,” said Thom Dunning, who leads the Blue Waters project and is NCSA’s director.

“We look forward to a new round of PRAC partners—including partners from industry—and the exciting projects they will bring to the table.”

The PRAC program provides access to Blue Waters free of charge for non-proprietary, open research.

Companies may also join NCSA’s Private Sector Program. The program offers opportunities to perform proprietary research on Blue Waters, as well as other work on Blue Waters and on other projects. Computing time through the Private Sector Program is available on a cost-recovery basis.

“Some private-sector research is very similar to research conducted at academic institutions and offers great opportunities for collaboration. The PRAC program provides a great venue for that synergy,” explained Merle Giles, who leads NCSA’s Private Sector Program.

“But we also recognize that some private-sector research has special privacy needs. Blue Waters will be well-suited to that sort of work as well.”

The Blue Waters petascale computing system is based on the most advanced technologies under development at IBM, including the multicore POWER7 microprocessor, a high-performance memory subsystem, and an innovative, low-latency, high-bandwidth optical interconnect. It also includes advanced parallel file systems, parallel tools and services, and programming environments.

Blue Waters will have a peak performance of 10 petaflops, a performance that can be attained only with more than 300,000 compute cores, and a peak memory bandwidth of nearly 5 petabytes/second. Blue Waters will have more than 1 petabyte of memory, 10 petabytes of user disk storage, and 500 petabytes of archival storage. The interprocessor communications network will have a bisection bandwidth far greater than what is available today, greatly facilitating scaling to large numbers of compute cores. The high-performance I/O subsystem will enable the solution of the most challenging data-intensive problems.

Performance projections indicate that Blue Waters will sustain at least 1 petaflops on a range of real-world science and engineering applications.

Blue Waters is funded by the National Science Foundation.

For information on industry access to Blue Waters and NCSA’s Private Sector Program, contact NCSA’s Merle Giles at or 217-244-4629.

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