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Supercomputer finds answers 50 times faster

On November 20, Brown and IBM announced the opening of a new multimillion-dollar supercomputer on campus. The most powerful computer in Rhode Island, it will help researchers around the state study pressing societal problems.

By TAB staff  |  November 24, 2009  |  Email to a friend

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, November 20, Brown and IBM introduced a powerful new supercomputer, one that can perform more than 14 trillion calculations per second – more than 50 times faster than any other computer on campus.

The supercomputer, equal to the size of six refrigerators, is based on three IBM iDataPlex systems and includes an IBM Cluster 1350 and multiple IBM storage systems running General Parallel File System, supported by IBM Global Services. It is six times more energy-efficient than what had previously been available at Brown. The supercomputer is located in Brown’s original Philip Johnson-designed computing building (1961), now the Center for Computation and Visualization, on the corner of George and Brook streets.

Using this powerful new tool, Brown and IBM will work with state and city governments, universities, hospitals, nonprofits, businesses, and other Rhode Island organizations on research in the areas of climate change, education, energy, and health.

Professor of Applied Mathematics Jan Hesthaven, director of the Center for Computation and Visualization, said that the machine will address the ever-increasing challenge of “data explosion” – the need to sift through vast amounts of information to find what is actually useful.

Speaking at the Friday event, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri ’65 called the supercomputer “another key piece” in the state’s economic progress. “If you’re going to build an economy with science and investment,” he said, “this is one of those tools.”