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Daphne Siefert-Herron
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Last modified: Tuesday, August 2, 2011

IU-backed software contributes to world’s fastest supercomputer

Aug. 2, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Software developed by Indiana University and partner institutions helped the Fukitsu K Computer be named reigning champion of the world's fastest supercomputers.

At the International Supercomputing Conference, June 2011, a new Top 500 list of supercomputers ( was unveiled. Based on the new ranking, the K Computer, a Japanese supercomputer which performs more than 8 quadrillion calculations per second (8 petaflops per second), is the world's highest performing supercomputer.

Andrew Lumsdaine

Andrew Lumsdaine

Print-Quality Photo

A key factor in reaching these unprecedented speeds was the use of Open MPI (Message Passing Interface), an open-source software package initially co-developed by IU's Open Systems Lab (OSL) and three partner institutions. OSL is part of Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University.

"To make a parallel computation run at a high speed, different processors need to be able to communicate data as quickly as possible," said OSL Director Andrew Lumsdaine. "Hardware processing has become ever faster, but Open MPI is critical to enabling supercomputers to use that processing power."

The Message Passing Interface (MPI) is a specification that allows processes to communicate with one another. The MPI library used in the K Computer is based on the Open MPI 1.4 series with some extensions. The OSL has played a key role since the Open MPI project launched in 2004.

Jeff Squyres, a former researcher at IU and one of the Open MPI founders said, "Open MPI, an efficient MPI implementation, played a big part in achieving the stellar performance by powering the 8 petaflop runs at an amazing 93% efficiency." Squyres is currently a core developer of Open MPI at Cisco.

The Open MPI software has also shown incredible extensibility. "The K Computer has shown that Open MPI is scalable to the level of 68,000 processes, by connecting 68,544 nodes via our custom interconnect. We are pleased to use such great open source software," said Takahiro Kawashima, an MPI library development team member at Fujitsu.

About Open MPI

The Message Passing Interface (MPI) is an application programming interface (API) specification that allows processes to communicate with one another by sending and receiving messages. Along with many other software libraries, it is a de facto standard for parallel programs running on computer clusters and supercomputers, where the cost of accessing non-local memory is high.

The Open MPI Project is an open source MPI-2 implementation that is developed and maintained by a consortium of academic, research, and industry partners. Open MPI is therefore able to combine expertise, technologies, and resources from across the High Performance Computing community, constructing the best MPI library available. Open MPI offers advantages for system and software vendors, application developers, and computer science researchers.

Open MPI initially represented the merger between four well-known MPI implementations: FT-MPI from the University of Tennessee, LA-MPI from Los Alamos National Laboratory, and LAM/MPI from Indiana University with contributions from the PACX-MPI team at the University of Stuttgart. For more about Open MPI, see:

About Pervasive Technology Institute

Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) at Indiana University is a world-class organization dedicated to the development and delivery of innovative information technology to advance research, education, industry, and society. Supported in part by a $15-million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., PTI is built upon a spirit of collaboration and brings together researchers and technologists from a range of disciplines and organizations, including the IU School of Informatics and Computing at Bloomington, the IU Maurer School of Law and University Information Technology Services at Indiana University. For more about PTI, see