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March 24, 1994 Share This!

New supercomputer key to advanced molecular research

RICHLAND, Wash. – Building for the future, the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory has acquired the first of several high- performance research computers to help scientists find solutions to Hanford's cleanup questions.

The research computer, Hanford's most powerful computer ever, is the cornerstone of PNL's Molecular Science Computing Facility -- a facility that will provide wide-ranging computing capabilities to scientists involved in the development of new knowledge necessary for cleanup of DOE sites. The computing facility is a part of the new $230 million state-of-the-art Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory, which is scheduled for completion in 1997.

The research computer consists of 80 processors linked through a patented memory system called ALLCACHE‘. Each processor can operate at high data processing speeds -- about 80 million operations per second -- and together the system has about 2.5 billion bytes of memory. Compared to a conventional personal desktop computer, the research computer is over 2,000 times more powerful.

The research computer, manufactured by Kendall Square Research Corp., will be used to design and test software that will operate a more powerful computer scheduled for purchase in late 1996.

The software will allow scientists and researchers to perform advanced modeling of molecular processes. These modeling processes include the transport of pollutants through various geologic features underground, the chemical separation of waste streams, and the interaction of molecules and DNA to gain a better understanding of the health effects associated with various pollutants.

When the more advanced computer is installed in 1997, the research computer will continue to be used to develop and test new operating systems and software.

The research computer is an integral part of a computer facility that, through the use of advanced networking systems, will be accessible to researchers from all parts of the United States. From workstations on their desks or computer systems in their laboratories, scientists at PNL and their collaborators across the country will be able to develop software applications for complex environmental and molecular research.

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Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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