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Last modified: Friday, August 18, 2006

Media advisory: IU's new supercomputer goes to work

AUG. 18, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University officials and other dignitaries will cut the ribbon and kick off the first production program on Big Red, the fastest academic supercomputer in the United States, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 22). The ceremony will be held at IU Bloomington's Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Facility at the Wrubel Computing Center, which is located at 2711 E. 10th St.

IU officials announced in April that the university had acquired the IBM system, the fastest of its kind, to support research into new discoveries in the life sciences, astronomy, informatics, computational physics and the humanities. The 23rd most powerful computer in the world according to the recent TOP500 list of the world's most powerful computer systems, Big Red has strengthened IU's research capabilities at a time when Indiana has been touted (by a Battelle Memorial Institute report) as one of the top four states with the highest number and concentration of life sciences-related jobs.

IBM General Manager of Global Solution Sales Mark Elliott, who is an IU alumnus, will speak at the dedication. Elliott serves on the Dean's Advisory Council of the IU Kelley School of Business and the Technology Advisory Council at IU.

The Community Grids Lab, which is headed by Geoffrey C. Fox, a distinguished scientist and professor of informatics, will be given the inaugural run on Big Red. The Community Grids Lab program is a drug discovery-enabling analysis of chemical molecules and will begin immediately after the ribbon-cutting. The Community Grids Lab is part of Pervasive Technology Labs at IU.

Other IU faculty, including Andrew Lumsdaine, director of PTL's Open Systems Lab, also will be in attendance to help illustrate through research examples the power of Big Red. The OSL, along with an international consortium of major research labs, helped write the software OpenMPI, which provides advanced tools for taking advantage of and effectively utilizing a complex supercomputer cluster such as Big Red.

Major funding for the Big Red supercomputer comes from the Indiana Metabolomics and Cytomics Initiative (METACyt), a $53 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to advance life sciences research at IU Bloomington and in Indiana.