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IBM Fast-Tracks Open-Source Protocols for DOE Supercomputer

SAN FRANCISCO, March 25 - IBM has fast-tracked the process of integrating open-source protocols into the software that runs a US Department of Energy-IBM supercomputer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory here.


The higher priority for incorporating Globus and Linux protocols will allow the DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Berkeley to accelerate by two years a national computing grid, according to NERSC.


According to a NERSC spokesman, one goal of the grid is to allow DOE scientists to gain broader access to not only greater amounts of data and more processing power but also large-scale experimental resources.


Approximately four percent of the NERSC research is currently in the life sciences, including genomics, according to NERSC spokesperson Jon Bashor. The IBM supercomputer at the NERSC, which was installed in early 2001, is the nation's largest unclassified computing center, he said.


IBM, which already has technicians at the Berkeley site to help run the supercomputer, decided to give the open source-protocol integration greater priority in order to offer companies access to remote processing and data storage centers, said a source at the NERSC. Work done at the NERSC could then be integrated into IBM's commercial products.


There is no exchange of money in the collaboration, said Bashor.


Specifically, the grid is being built to give DOE scientists at different government research labs access to each other's data at the supercomputer's processing speed. Once centers are linked via the grid, processing power greater than 10 trillion calculations per second and storage capacity of 1.3 petabytes will be available to DOE researchers located around the country, according the NERSC.


Integrating the open-source protocols into the software running the IBM supercomputer at Lawrence Berkeley will serve as the testing ground and first step to bringing similar software and grid connection to other sites, including Argonne, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest national labs. Initially, 2,100 DOE researchers, 35 percent of whom are in universities, will have supercomputing access in December.


"The grid is a work in progress," said Bashor. "It's still in its learning to walk stages. A lot of pieces are developed but haven't been woven together yet.

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