Feature Story

DOE awards 22 million node-hours of computing time to support cutting-edge research

DOE/US Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science today announced that 22 million node-hours for 41 scientific projects under the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program. The projects, with applications ranging from nuclear forensics to advanced energy systems to climate change, will use DOE supercomputers to uncover unique insights about scientific problems that would otherwise be impossible to solve using other experimental approaches.

Selected projects will receive computational time, also known as node-hours, on one or multiple DOE supercomputers to conduct research that would take years to complete on a standard desktop computer. A node-hour is the usage of one node (or computing unit) on a supercomputer for one hour. A project allocated 1,000,000 node-hours could run a simulation on 1,000 compute nodes for 1,000 hours - vastly reducing the total amount of time required to complete the simulation. These three supercomputers – The Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s “Summit” system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility’s “Theta” system at Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s “Cori” system at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – are among the fastest computers in the nation. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Summit” currently performs as the second fastest computer in the world.

“The Department of Energy is committed to providing the advanced scientific tools needed to move U.S. science forward. Supercomputers allow us to explore scientific problems in ways we haven’t been able to in the past – modeling dangerous, large, or costly experiments, safely and quickly,” said Barb Helland, DOE Associate Director for Advanced Scientific Computing Research. “The ALCC awards are just one example of how the DOE’s investments in supercomputing benefit researchers all across our nation to advance our nation’s scientific competitiveness, accelerate clean energy options, and to understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

The ASCR Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program supports efforts to broaden community access to DOE’s computing facilities. ALCC focuses on high-risk, high-payoff simulations in areas directly related to the DOE mission and seeks to broaden the community of researchers who use DOE’s advanced computing resources. The 2021 awardees are awarded compute time at DOE’s high-performance computing facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Of the 41 projects, 3 are from industry, 19 are led by universities and 19 are led by national laboratories.

The projects cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Climate change research, including improving climate models, studying the effects of turbulence in oceans, characterizing the impact of low-level jets on wind farms, improving the simulation of biochemical processes, and simulating clouds on a global scale.
  • Energy research, including AI and deep learning prediction for fusion energy systems, modeling materials for energy storage, studying wind turbine mechanics, and research into the properties of lithium battery electrolytes.
  • Medical research, such as deep learning for medical natural language processing, modeling cancer screening strategies, and modeling cancer initiation pathways.

Learn more about the 2021 ALCC awardees by visiting the ASCR website. The ALCC application period will re-open for the 2022-23 allocation cycle in Fall 2021.

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