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Harvard, IBM To Deploy Academia's Largest Blue Gene Supercomputer

At its peak, the CrimsonGridBGL can perform 11 trillion floating point calculations per second, according to IBM.

IBM and Harvard University have announced plans to deploy the largest Blue Gene supercomputer in American academia.

The CrimsonGridBGL, would rank among the 50 fastest supercomputers, according to IBM, which cited statistics from the TOP500 Supercomputer Sites. At its peak, the supercomputer can perform 11 trillion floating point calculations per second (teraflops), according to IBM.

Faculty and researchers from Harvard University 's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS), will deploy the computer for a variety of studies, including those focusing on cells, the circulatory system and the heart, computer systems, integrated circuits and the formation of galaxies. It is also likely to help university departments analyze financial risk and epidemiology.

The Blue Gene system packs 4,096 PowerPC processors into two racks and takes up less than three-square meters. It uses a standard MPI foundation to allow calculations of complex problems simultaneously among thousands of processors and connections. It will extend the Crimson Grid, which IBM and Harvard established in 2003 for research and data sharing in life sciences, engineering and applied sciences.

Jayanta Sircar, CIO at DEAS and director of the Crimson Grid Project, said the system would result in a five-fold increase in the ability to handle multiple projects at once.

"The existing grid infrastructure, which you can think of as an entry point to accessing the Blue Gene system, will provide a consistent and integrated high speed network for managing workflow," Sircar said through a prepared statement.

"Increasingly sophisticated computational tools and mutually-reinforcing industry collaborations are instrumental to the success and advancement of research across all areas," Venkatesh Narayanamurti, dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard, said through a prepared statement. "The new system comes at an ideal time for us and compliments the University's plans to dramatically increase its investments in science and engineering."

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