IBM, lab join hands to boost U.S. competitiveness

IBM and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will provide researchers, HPC resources to solve business problems

IBM is joining hands with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to develop new technology, products and processes critical to the U.S. infrastructure in an effort to boost the global competitiveness of the country.

LLNL, which is in Livermore, California, and IBM's research unit will work together and provide researchers and high-performance computing resources to solve complex technical problems facing businesses in the U.S. today. The goal is to make "wholesale" changes to business processes and execution, and also to make U.S. companies competitive on a global stage, said Frederick Streitz, the director of the Livermore HPC innovation center, in a video posted on YouTube regarding the project.

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National security is the mission of LLNL, he said. "National security takes many different guises. One of them is economic security, the ability for the American industry to compete in the global marketplace," Streitz said.

The partnership expands an ongoing 20 year relationship in which IBM provides supercomputing resources to LLNL. IBM will make material contributions by assigning additional staff from its research unit with domain expertise and will also provide a dedicated supercomputer called Vulcan for the researchers to carry out complex calculations.

Joint expertise will be provided to companies in the areas of energy, biology, materials science, fabrication, manufacturing, data management and informatics. IBM is renowned for fundamental research breakthroughs from its research unit, which employs thousands of scientists with expertise in computer technology, basic sciences, mathematics, electrical engineering, materials, services and management.

IBM's Vulcan supercomputer is a new 24 rack IBM Blue Gene/Q system running on Power processors, which will provide peak performance of 5 petaflops (or 5,000 trillion operations per second). The supercomputer will be delivered to LLNL in the next few months, the company said.

IBM has already built another supercomputer for LLNL called Sequoia, which is the world's fastest supercomputer, according to the Top500 list issued last week. The Sequoia is also a Blue Gene/Q system and offers peak performance of 16.32 petabytes.

The research will mostly take place in the HPC Innovation Center at LLNL, which has been established to provide scientific and computational expertise to U.S.-based companies and government entities. Some of the issues already being addressed by the center include the creation of a power grid model and a new power-efficient fuel system for semi-trucks.

Companies in the private sector can reach out to LLNL or IBM to take advantage of the research and supercomputing resources provided by the innovation center, an IBM spokeswoman said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's email address is agam_shah@idg.com.

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