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NPACI's Upgraded Blue Horizon at SDSC Ranks Among World's Top 10 Most Powerful Supercomputers

1.7 Teraflops IBM SP, Blue Horizon, Remains Most Powerful in the U.S. Dedicated to Academic Research

Published 11/03/2000

Contact: David Hart, SDSC,, 858-534-8314

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO -- With an upgrade to a peak speed of 1.7 teraflops -- 1.7 trillion calculations per second -- Blue Horizon, the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) computer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), has been ranked number 8 on the list of the Top 500 Supercomputers. The list at is maintained by the University of Mannheim and the University of Tennessee. The 70% speed increase will enable scientists to gain new knowledge in many fields.

In production since October 2, 2000 with upgraded hardware, Blue Horizon, an IBM SP supercomputer, remains the nation's fastest academic-use supercomputer. With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE), the 1,152 processors on Blue Horizon were upgraded to 375-Mhz Power3-II processors, each with 1.5 gigaflops peak performance.

"We're very pleased about this upgrade because the increased computing capability of Blue Horizon will open new avenues for scientific discovery," said Sid Karin, director of SDSC and NPACI. "Not only will researchers be able to enlarge today's simulations, they will also be able to consider new approaches and devise computations never before done."

Blue Horizon is helping researchers probe demanding, deep computing problems such as determining chemical reaction rates, designing new materials, simulating the nervous system, modeling water and pollutant transport, modeling climate and predicting storms, and understanding the origins of the universe.

"We're excited by the opportunities in computational biology that the upgraded Blue Horizon will provide," said J. Andrew McCammon, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry and Pharmacology at UCSD. "Being able to study cellular structures that contain millions of atoms on this larger system will deepen our understanding of cell biology, opening new vistas for structure-based drug discovery."

"The upgrade of Blue Horizon, the IBM SP supercomputer at SDSC, underscores IBM's commitment to high performance computing," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president technology and strategy, IBM Server Group. "By linking the massive computing power of Blue Horizon with leading researchers, IBM is helping NPACI bring together human intelligence and technology to solve the most complex problems in science and technology."

Using only 1,056 processors, less than its full complement of 1,152, the upgraded Blue Horizon has already run at a speed of 930 gigaflops on the LINPACK benchmark used by the Top 500 list for its rankings. LINPACK solves a dense system of linear equations, and since the problem is very regular, the performance numbers give a reasonable measure of peak achievable performance.

Funded through the NSF's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program, Blue Horizon provides 1.7 teraflops of computing power and 576 gigabytes of memory for leading-edge academic research. Allocations on the machine are made through the NPACI national peer-reviewed allocation process, with preference given to problems that take advantage of the machine's unique capability. See more information.

The National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) unites more than 45 universities and research institutions to build the computational environment for tomorrow's scientific discovery. Led by UC San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), NPACI is funded by the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program and receives additional support from the State and University of California, other government agencies, and partner institutions. The NSF PACI program also supports the National Computational Science Alliance led by the University of Illinois. For additional information about NPACI, see, or contact David Hart at SDSC, 858-534-8314,