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MIT gets Blue Gene supercomputer

"Blue Gene," a new computer that will be MIT's most powerful, will be dedicated on Thursday, Nov. 10.

The computer will be used to explore lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD) and other extremely demanding computational physics problems. John Negele, the William A. Coolidge Professor of Physics, is the principal investigator for the Blue Gene project.

"The MIT Blue Gene computer will have tremendous impact on our research in QCD," Negele said. "For the first time, our resources will be of the same magnitude as dedicated facilities in Japan, Germany, the U.K. and the RIKEN Center at Brookhaven National Lab."

The new computer will be used by many MIT physicists, including faculty, postdocs, graduate students and senior thesis students. It will help scientists build on work done by MIT Professor Frank Wilczek, who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on asymptotic freedom.

Extremely fast, Blue Gene is also efficient. "A unique feature is its compactness and low energy consumption," Negele said. "The single rack at MIT has the same power as a conventional cluster filling a large room and uses an order of magnitude less electrical power and air conditioning, heralding a new era of energy efficient computing."

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Thursday's dedication will take place at 2 p.m. in Building W91. Attendees will include Michael Strayer (Ph.D. 1971), director of the DOE Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research; Dmitri Kuznezov, director of advanced simulation and computing at the National Nuclear Security Administration at DOE; and officials from MIT and IBM.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 9, 2005 (download PDF).

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