August 25, 2009

Iowa State gets second supercomputer

Iowa State University says its new Cystorm supercomputer is capable of doing 28.16 trillion calculations per second at peak performance.

Professor Srnivas Aluru, leader of the Cystorm project, said the supercomputer -- the university's second -- will help Iowa State researchers advance their work in materials science, power systems and systems biology. It is also earning Iowa State recognition as a Sun Microsystems Center of Excellence in Engineering Informatics and Systems Biology.

Cystorm, a Sun Microsystems machine, uses 3,200 computer processor cores and has a peak performance that's five times that of CyBlue, an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer that uses 2,048 processors. CyBlue has been on the Iowa State campus since 2006.

Cystorm is going to be very good for data-intensive research projects, Aluru said. The capabilities of Cystorm will help Iowa State researchers do new, pioneering research in their fields.

Aluru said materials scientists will use the supercomputer to analyze data from the university's Local Electrode Atom Probe microscope. Systems biologists will use the supercomputer to build gene networks that will help researchers understand how thousands of genes interact with each other. Power systems researchers will use it to study the security, reliability and efficiency of the nation's energy infrastructure.

The computer was purchased with a $719,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, $400,000 from Iowa State and a $200,000 equipment donation from Sun Microsystems.