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IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, June 28, 2006

IU supercomputer joins ranks of world's fastest

June 28, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's supercomputer system -- named "Big Red" -- is the fastest supercomputer owned and operated by a U.S. university and the 23rd fastest supercomputer in the world, according to a list of the world's most powerful computer systems that was released today (June 28). IU's supercomputer system -- an IBM e1350 BladeCenter Cluster -- is also the fastest of its type in the world.

The TOP500 list is compiled twice a year with the help of high performance computer experts, computational scientists, manufacturers and the Internet community in general. The list was introduced in Dresden, Germany, at the International Supercomputer Conference, an important supercomputing event in Europe. It can be viewed online at

Michael A. McRobbie

Print-Quality Photo

Michael A. McRobbie, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at IU Bloomington, said, "Having one of the world's 25 most powerful supercomputers, our highest ranking ever, demonstrates that we are intent on providing new capabilities for IU's life scientists. IU is providing powerful and sophisticated high performance computing facilities to its scientists, while at the same time providing excellent support for computing that involves massive amounts of scientific data. These are the modern tools for adding knowledge-intensive jobs in Indiana's growing life sciences economy."

In April 2006, IU announced that it would acquire Big Red, which will enable new research capabilities in the life sciences, weather forecasting and physics. It will also carry out some of the key goals of the Indiana METACyt Initiative -- and of the Indiana University Life Sciences Strategic Plan -- allowing IU's life scientists to analyze massive amounts of biological data and perform path-breaking simulations of biological phenomena.

The purchase of Big Red was funded in part by the METACyt Initiative, which was created by a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. Big Red will be used to analyze proteomic and metabolomic data -- information discovered by IU chemists about what compounds are found in living cells. For example, discovering differences between healthy cells and cancer cells will help biomedical researchers discover new ways to diagnose and treat cancer. Big Red will also be used for research on mesoscale storm (tornado and hurricane) prediction in the National Science Foundation Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery project.

Big Red will play a major role in the TeraGrid, the National Science Foundation's flagship effort to create an advanced national cyberinfrastructure. Cyberinfrastructure refers to supercomputers, massive data storage systems, advanced instruments and people all connected by high speed networks, enabling new possibilities in scientific research. The National Science Foundation's goal for the TeraGrid is to make U.S. scientific research more productive and to enhance the international competitiveness of the nation's scientists. Big Red will be connected to the TeraGrid this summer and will at that time be the fastest supercomputer connected to this innovative national grid computing system.

Big Red consists of IBM's very latest technology, an e1350 BladeCenter Cluster, that uses new chip technology and high speed internal networks to perform calculations at very fast speeds. Big Red is currently the largest IBM e1350 system in the world, with a peak theoretical capability of 20.4 trillion mathematical operations per second. Achieving peak capability is a particular challenge in supercomputing. To achieve the greatest processing efficiency, IU will be using a special software library built for this purpose -- created by the Open Systems Lab, part of Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University. The Pervasive Technology Labs were started with a major grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

About Indiana University

Indiana University is one of the oldest state universities in the Midwest and also one of the largest universities in the United States with more than 110,000 students, faculty and staff on eight campuses. IU has a national reputation in the areas of information technology and advanced networking. For more information see

About Pervasive Technology Labs

Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University pursues research in the pervasive computing technologies that will help drive the 21st century information economy. Funded by a $30 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., Pervasive Technology Labs serves as an economic development catalyst for Indiana's information technology sector by commercializing research through technology transfer, commercialization of innovations produced in the labs, and joint research and development partnerships with industry. For more information, see

About University Information Technology Services

University Information Technology Services (UITS) at Indiana University, with offices on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, develops and maintains a modern information technology environment throughout the university in support of IU's vision for excellence in research, teaching, outreach and lifelong learning. UITS provides tools and services to support the academic and administrative work of the university, including supercomputers for data analysis and visualization. For more information, see

About TOP500

The TOP500 project was started in 1993 to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing. For more information, see

EDITORS: More information about IU's advanced cyberinfrastructure is available online at and in a separate technical news release at The deployment of Big Red is a prominent aspect of IU's efforts to continually enhance its leadership in advanced information technology services and systems.