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DOE Awards Supercomputing Time to UC San Diego, SDSC Researchers

Published 01/13/2009

Scientists from the San Diego Supercomputer Center and other parts of the University of California, San Diego - conducting research in astrophysics, biology, environmental sciences, and global climate change - were awarded supercomputing processor time by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of its 2009 Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.

In total, the DOE's Office of Science awarded a record 889 million hours to 66 new and renewed scientific projects, the largest amount of supercomputing time ever allocated in the department's history, and three times that of last year's award. Processor hours refer to allocations of time on a supercomputer.

Projects involving UC San Diego and SDSC awarded processing time under the latest INCITE awards include:

  • Astrophysics: "Intermittency and Star Formation in Turbulent Molecular Clouds."
    Principle Investigator: Alexei Kritsuk, University of California, San Diego.
    Co-Investigators: Paolo Padoan, University of California, San Diego; Michael Norman, University of California, San Diego, and San Diego Supercomputer Center.
    The project was awarded 5 million processor hours in Cray XTs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Environmental Sciences: "Deterministic Simulations of Large Regional Earthquakes at Frequencies up to 2Hz."
    Principal Investigator: Thomas Jordan, Southern California Earthquake Center.
    Co-Investigators: Yifeng Cui, San Diego Supercomputer Center; Kim Bak Olsen, California State University San Diego.
    The project was awarded 5,000,000 processor hours on the IBM Blue Gene/P at Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Biological Sciences: "Simulation and Modeling of Membranes Interactions with Unstructured Proteins and Computational Design of Membrane Channels for Absorption of Specified Ions."
    Principal Investigator: Igor Tsigelny, University of California, San Diego.
    Co-Investigators: Mark Miller, University of California, San Diego, and San Diego Supercomputer Center.
    The project was awarded 3 million processor hours on the IBM Blue Gene/P at Argonne National Laboratory.
  • Climate Research: "Simulation of Global Cloudiness."
    Principal Investigator: David Randall, Colorado State University.
    Co-Investigators: Ross Heikes, Colorado State University; John Helly, San Diego Supercomputer Center; Bruce Palmer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Karen Schuchardt, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
    The project was awarded 2,000,000 processor hours on Cray XTs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Now in its sixth year, INCITE supports computationally intensive scientific investigations, enabling researchers at national laboratories, universities, and industry to explore a wide range of scientific challenges. By providing scientists access to some of the world's most powerful supercomputers, the awards enable researchers to conduct their studies in weeks or months, as opposed to years or decades. A project receiving one million hours could run on 10,000 processors for 100 hours, or just over four days. Running a one-million-hour project on a dual-processor desktop computer would take more than 57 years, according to the DOE.

"From understanding the makeup of our universe to protecting the quality of life here on earth, the computational science now possible using DOE's supercomputers touches all of our lives," said DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach in a DOE release announcing the awards. "By dedicating time on these supercomputers to carefully selected projects, we are advancing scientific research in ways we could barely envision 10 years ago, improving our national competitiveness."

DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences for the nation and ensures U.S. leadership across a broad range of scientific disciplines. For more information about the Office of Science, visit:

About SDSC
As an organized research unit of UC San Diego, SDSC is a national leader in creating and providing cyberinfrastructure for data-intensive research. Cyberinfrastructure refers to an accessible and integrated network of computer-based resources and expertise, focused on accelerating scientific inquiry and discovery. SDSC is a founding member of the national TeraGrid, which recently reached a combined compute capability equal to one petaflop (10^15 calculations per second).

Media Contacts:
Jan Zverina, SDSC Communications, 858 534-5111 or
Warren R. Froelich, SDSC Communications, 858 822-3622 or

Related Links

DOE's Office of Science -
University of California, San Diego -
San Diego Supercomputer Center -