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November 13, 1998

Energy Department Lab Scientists Sweep Supercomputing Awards

Orlando, FL. -- Researchers from four U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories this week were honored by the high-performance scientific computing community as recipients of top awards presented at SC98, the annual high-performance networking and computing conference.

An international team of scientists including the department's Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories won the 1998 Gordon Bell prize for best performance of a supercomputing application. The team won the award for their modeling of 1,024 atoms of a metallic magnet. Although the team won for its 657 Gigaflops performance level (657 billion calculations per second), it subsequently was able to have the application run at more than one trillion calculations per second.

Another 1998 Gordon Bell prize recognizes scientists who achieve the best price/performance level on a computer system. The winning team in this category is a collaboration of universities and DOE national laboratories led by Columbia University and involving the department's Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. The winning machine, costing only $1.8 million, is a multi-purpose, non-commercial supercomputer with a top operating speed of 600 billion calculations per second. It will carry out forefront physics research. The machine was built at Brookhaven and funded by the Japanese RIKEN laboratory as part of its research center at Brookhaven supporting the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

The two other finalist entries for the Gordon Bell prizes also included DOE laboratories. The department's Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California at Berkeley and Intel Corp. used DOE's ASCI Red, a supercomputer with more than 4600 dual-processor Pentium Pro nodes at Sandia, to calculate electronic structures. The computer sustained a performance of 605 Gigaflops. The finalist for best price/performance was the department's Los Alamos National Laboratory's Avalon computer costing $150,000 and performing 20 billion operations per second.

Gordon Bell, who has both designed high-performance computers and administered national research programs, sponsors the annual prize.

Phillip Colella, a mathematician at DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, received the 1998 Sidney Fernbach Award at the conference, which concludes today in Orlando. Colella received the award for his "outstanding contribution in the application of high performance omputers using innovative approaches." The Fernbach Award, created in memory of a computer scientist at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is presented by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Computer Society.

"These awards are continuing recognition of the Department of Energy's leadership in the field of scientific supercomputing," said Ernest Moniz, Under Secretary of Energy and a speaker at the conference. "For more than 40 years, scientists working in DOE's research areas have driven -- and in some cases, invented -- many of the innovations in high-performance computing and networking." Moniz noted that the nation's first supercomputers were developed to support DOE programs and that the department created the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) to allow researchers across the country to utilize DOE's supercomputing centers.

In the past few weeks, the department's supercomputers have set record-breaking computing achievements, racing past the milestone of a trillion computing operations per second. Supercomputing will play an increasingly central role in maintaining the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent, improving the efficiency of combustion systems, improving our understanding of the atmosphere and oceans, developing advanced materials and advancing many other scientific and engineering areas central to the department's missions.

Moniz, who spoke on "Challenges for the Future" at SC98, said, "All of these achievements are part of the Department of Energy's emphasis on taking supercomputing the next big step forward. Revolutionary advances in computation and simulation promise a new era for scientific discovery and technological innovation. DOE is working with the National Science Foundation and other agencies to develop supercomputing and its applications. This will result in stronger national security, improved medical technology, the development of new efficient manufacturing processes, stronger educational programs and a stronger 21st century economy."

Additional information on the prize winners/finalists is available from the laboratories' public affairs offices and on the Internet at:

R-98-181 -DOE-