Big Computers For Big Science

Aug 23, 2004

A visiting neutron scattering scientist at ORNL sends data from her experiment to a San Diego supercomputer for analysis. The calculation results are sent to Argonne National Laboratory, where they are turned into "pictures." These visualizations are sent to a collaborating scientist's workstation at North Carolina State University, one of the core universities of UT-Battelle, which manages ORNL for DOE.

To make their discoveries, scientists must interact with supercomputers to generate, examine, and archive huge datasets. To turn data into insight, this interaction must occur on human time scales, not over days or weeks, but over minutes.

Big science requires big computers that are not just scaled-up desktop personal computers. Big computers are fundamentally different from PCs in their ability to model enormous systems, generate immense volumes of data, and, as a payoff, solve uniquely difficult scientific problems. To put this difference in perspective, next-generation science datasets will approach or exceed a petabyte in size. If one of today's desktop PCs had a disk able to hold a petabyte-sized file, the PC would require over three years to read the file.

The Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL has been tasked by DOE to develop the next generation of scientific networks to address the challenges of large science applications. The techniques developed in Oak Ridge will eventually filter out into the high end of the business world. Just as yesterday's scientific supercomputers have become today's central business and engineering computers, the same transfer will result in this network, called the DOE UltraScience Net, becoming the core of tomorrow's commercial networks.

Source: ORNL

Explore further: Physicists design quantum switches which can be activated by single photons

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Titan is also a green powerhouse

Nov 14, 2012

Not only is Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Titan the world's most powerful supercomputer, it is also one of the most energy-efficient.

Nanotube 'sponge' has potential in oil spill cleanup

May 10, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A carbon nanotube sponge that can soak up oil in water with unparalleled efficiency has been developed with help from computational simulations performed at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) ...

Recommended for you

Could 'Jedi Putter' be the force golfers need?

Apr 18, 2014

Putting is arguably the most important skill in golf; in fact, it's been described as a game within a game. Now a team of Rice engineering students has devised a training putter that offers golfers audio, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...