ASCR provides supercomputing facilities and advanced scientific networks along with programs to utilize these facilities.
Supercomputers or massively parallel high-performance computers, by every definition describes machines that employ very large numbers of processors in parallel to address scientific and engineering challenges. "Massively parallel processing" splits up a task or problem and parcels it out to multiple processors that work simultaneously but in concert to quickly supply results. High-performance computers link hundreds or thousands of processors - the computer chips that perform most calculations - in massively parallel configurations. Some of the processors in high-performance computers are specially designed for their purpose. In others, the processors are similar to the commercially available ones found in home computers, but they're linked by custom-made hardware and software that lets them work together quickly and efficiently.
High-performance computers carry out trillions or even quadrillions of calculations each second - powerful enough to simulate the most complex physical, biological and chemical phenomena. Supercomputers help scientists understand these processes at unprecedented levels - from individual atoms for nanoscale engineering to the entire planet for global climate studies. High-performance computers also are powerful enough to provide insight into systems and process by simulating them with great detail over relatively long times.
The primary facilities funded and managed by ASCR:
- Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility
Home to Titan, a Cray XK7 capable of about 20 thousand trillion calculations a second—or 20 petaflops—the OLCF combines world-class staff with cutting-edge facilities and support systems. The center serves scientists from all areas of the research community through programs such as the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program, ensuring it will be a computing powerhouse for the foreseeable future. In 2013, over 1.8 billion processor hours were awarded to 32 INCITE projects from universities, private industry, and government research laboratories, representing a wide array of scientific inquiry, from combustion to climate to chemistry.
Titan is the first major supercomputing system to utilize a hybrid-architecture, or one that utilizes conventional CPUs and unconventional graphics processing units (GPUs). In particular, Titan consists of 18,688 AMD 16-core Opteron 6274 CPUs (for a total of 299,008 processing cores) and 18,688 NVIDIA Kepler GPUs. It also features 710 terabytes of memory and a 10-petabyte file system that can move data at more than 240 gigabytes per second. Titan is the United States' fastest and most powerful supercomputer dedicated to open scientific research according to the November 2012 Top 500 list, a semiannual ranking of computing systems around the world making it a national asset.
- Argonne Leadership Computing Facility
The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) provides the computational science community with a world-leading computing capability dedicated to breakthrough science and engineering. The ALCF provides resources that make computationally intensive projects of the largest scales possible.
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a supercomputing center funded and maintained by ASCR at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to support basic scientific research.
Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) provides an interoperable, highly capable and reliable communications infrastructure and a spectrum of core services that are the essential components of the highly-advanced scientific research collaborative environment for all of DOE.
The Innovative & Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program was conceived specifically to seek out computationally intensive, large-scale research projects with the potential to significantly advance key areas in science and engineering.
The ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program allocates up to 30% of the computational resources at NERSC and the Leadership Computing Facilities at Argonne and Oak Ridge for special situations of interest to the Department.