Press Release: September 28, 2007

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Selects HP High-performance Computing Technology to Aid Research

PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 28, 2007

HP today announced that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will use its technology to build one of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing (HPC) systems designed to accelerate research in the environmental molecular sciences.

The new system will provide the computing engine to advance research in support of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) mission in the fields of energy, the environment and national security. PNNL is one of the DOE’s 10 national laboratories managed by its Office of Science.

With the HP system, scientists will be able to study more complex problems with larger and more realistic models and obtain answers faster by scaling computational models to a larger number of processors. Some of the research projects planned include:

  • Discovering safe and effective materials for producing and storing hydrogen;
  • Studying chemical processes in bacteria’s behavior to address bioremediation and energy production issues; and
  • Developing computer simulation tools to aid in environmental clean up.

The system will be a key capability in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE national scientific user facility located at the PNNL in Richland, Wash. As such, the system will be available as a resource to scientists from around the world.

“We are thrilled to continue our work with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, helping them drive higher levels of productivity and advance their research goals,” said Winston Prather, vice president and general manager, High Performance Computing, HP. “HP brings deep experience and proven HPC technology to deliver the level of reliability and performance needed to meet the aggressive computational requirements of this important research initiative.” 

Robust high-performance computing system serves science and scientists alike The HP high-performance cluster configuration provides a scalable platform that can address the demanding computational and storage needs of the Lab. The new cluster uses the infrastructure of the existing HP cluster making it easier to introduce into PNNL’s computing environment.

The HP supercomputer architecture runs on HP ProLiant servers and includes an InfiniBand 4x DDR interconnect, 4,620 AMD Opteron™ processors, 37 terabytes of memory and aggregate disk bandwidth of about 950 gigabytes per second enabled by nearly 21,000 disk drives in HP enterprise virtual arrays. Consisting of 18,480 2.2 gigahertz AMD Opteron processor cores, the supercomputer will have an expected total peak performance of about 163 teraflops.

The Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) is a unique resource where users can access and conduct both theoretical and experimental molecular science. Because of the complexity of calculations and analysis involved with fundamental science, the scientists who use EMSL require a high rate at which data can be written to disk.

“At EMSL, we recognize the importance of providing the right balance of science-driven computing integrated with interdisciplinary experimental resources,” said Allison Campbell, director, EMSL. “The HP system will allow us to acquire a greater level of detail than previously possible and therefore more complete answers to our scientific questions.”

The Office of Biological and Environmental Research within DOE’s Office of Science funded the supercomputer’s purchase. Scientists will be granted access to the new computer based on a competitive, externally peer-reviewed proposal process.

The system is expected to be delivered and tested in two phases starting in January 2008 and is expected to be fully operational September 2008.

More information about HP’s high-performance computing solutions is available at

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