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Rensselaer Celebrates Grand Opening of World-Class Supercomputing Center

Fri, 2007-09-07 12:30 -- Anonymous

September 7, 2007

Event features presidential colloquy and highlights partnership with IBM, New York state

Troy, N.Y. — In the true spirit of the computer age, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today celebrated the grand opening of the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputer with a “virtual” ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The “physical” celebration, which was held on the Rensselaer campus, began with a presidential colloquy involving five of the country’s foremost leaders in science, technology, and innovation. The colloquy was followed by a “virtual” grand opening via video link to the Rensselaer Technology Park, where the primary elements of the supercomputer are housed.

The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), the result of a $100 million partnership involving Rensselaer, IBM, and New York state, was recently ranked seventh in the world, and it is the most powerful of any system based exclusively at a university, according to the 29th edition of the closely watched Top500 list.

“This new supercomputing center will provide unprecedented opportunities for the Rensselaer community, the Capital Region, the United States, and indeed the entire world,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “It is an extraordinary example of collaboration among academia, industry, and government to advance discovery and innovation. I am grateful for the shared vision of our partners as we work together to explore new frontiers in supercomputing.”

“The supercomputer is yet another example of the positive synergy that is created when government, higher education, and the private sector work together,” said New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. “In addition to developing innovative, cutting edge technology, the CCNI will attract advanced technology companies of all sizes while continuing our efforts to create economic opportunities in New York state.”

"High-performance computing is playing a growing role in our nation’s competitiveness," said John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations will provide the leadership supercomputing resources required to compete in the global marketplace. CCNI also stands as stellar example of university, government and industry partnership that should serve as a model for delivering supercomputing resources to other regions of the nation and the world. RPI is the ideal technological university to begin this next wave of innovation.”

America’s pre-eminence in information technology is one of the primary factors behind the nation’s leadership position in the world of science, Jackson said. Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, she hosted a presidential colloquy that examined how the United States can best develop and tap its computational infrastructure to maintain its position as a global leader — to explore radically new approaches to harness computational tools to advance discovery and innovation in the 21st century.

The colloquy, titled “The Future of Computationally Enabled Discovery and Innovation,” included the following participants:

  • The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. (Moderator)
    President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • The Honorable John H. Marburger III, Ph.D.
    Science Adviser to the President, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • The Honorable Arden L. Bement Jr., Ph.D.
    Director, National Science Foundation
  • John E. Kelly III, Ph.D., Class of 1978
    Senior Vice President & Director of Research, IBM Corporation
  • Charles M. Vest, Ph.D.
    President, National Academy of Engineering

CCNI is designed to continue advancing semiconductor technology to the nanoscale, while also enabling key nanotechnology innovations in the fields of energy, biotechnology, new materials, arts, and medicine. CCNI will provide a platform for researchers to perform a broad range of computational simulations, from the interactions between atoms and molecules up to the behavior of the complete device. The center will be an important resource for companies of any size — from start-ups to established firms — to perform research that would be impossible without both the computing power and the expert researchers at CCNI.

As part of the CCNI grand-opening celebration, Rensselaer also hosted a two-day National Science Foundation symposium Sept. 5 and 6. The event featured technical presentations by scientists and engineers addressing the complexity of the interactions of cyber and physical worlds. Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the National Science Foundation, delivered the capstone address at dinner on Sept. 6.

Under Bement’s leadership, NSF recently launched the Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) initiative — a five-year program designed to explore radically new concepts, approaches, and tools at the intersection of computational and physical or biological worlds.

Up to 300 high technology jobs are expected to be created directly as a result of the establishment of CCNI. Along with expanding the intellectual vibrancy of New York’s Capital Region, the supercomputing center also is expected to attract dozens of new computation-based startup companies, along with small, medium, and large corporations, which could add to the number of high-paying technology jobs in the region.

Cadence Design Systems, a leader in electronic design automation software, and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a global supplier of integrated circuits for personal and networked
computing and communications, intend to collaborate with Rensselaer and IBM through CCNI in advanced simulation and modeling of nanoelectronic devices and circuitry. The funding for the project was coordinated by and will be administered through the Empire State Development Corporation.

The CCNI system is made up of massively parallel Blue Gene supercomputers, POWER-based Linux clusters, and AMD Opteron processor-based clusters, providing more than 100 teraflops of computing power.

A Web cast of the Sept. 7 colloquy will be archived online. More information is available at: http://www.rpi.edu/ccni/colloquy

For more information about CCNI, go to:
http://www.rpi.edu/research/ccni

For more information about IBM’s Blue Gene, go to:
http://www-03.ibm.com/servers/deepcomputing/bluegene.html

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu