Press Archive

DOE Awards Supercomputing Time to UC San Diego, SDSC Researchers

Published 12/02/2010

Scientists from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and other parts of the University of California, San Diego - conducting research in biological sciences, computer science, earth science, and physics - were awarded supercomputing processor time by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of its 2011 Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.

In total, the DOE's Office of Science awarded a record amount of almost 1.7 billion processor hours to researchers across 57 new and renewed scientific projects, compared with 1.6 billion processor hours awarded in 2010 for 69 new and renewed projects. Areas of research include next-generation biofuels, medicine, nanotechnology, batteries, combustion, carbon capture and storage, astrophysics, nuclear fusion energy, climate, aeronautical engineering, groundwater, and fundamental physics.

New and renewed projects involving SDSC and UC San Diego researchers who were awarded processing time under the latest INCITE awards include:

  • Physics: "How High Redshift Galaxies Reionized the Universe."

    Principal Investigator: Michael Norman, Director, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego.
    Co-Investigators: Robert Harkness, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego; and Daniel Reynolds, Southern Methodist University.
    INCITE Allocation: 35,000,000 processor hours on Cray XT at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Research Summary: The objective is to critically test whether the population of high redshift galaxies discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope are capable of reionizing the universe consistent with observational constraints using self-consistent cosmological radiation hydrodynamical simulations. These simulations must cover a large enough range of scales to include the relative contribution of galaxies of different mass and luminosity to the reionization process. These will be the first fully self-consistent simulations of reionization at high enough resolution and in large enough volumes, and to engage multiple observations to critically test the dwarf galaxy reionizer hypothesis.

  • Computer Science: "Performance Evaluation and Analysis Consortium End Station."

    Principal Investigator: Patrick Worley, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
    Co-Investigators: David H. Bailey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Jack J. Dongarra, University of Tennessee; William D. Gropp, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jeffrey K. Hollingsworth, University of Maryland; Robert F. Lucas, University of Southern California; Allen D. Malony, University of Oregon; John Mellor-Crummey, Rice University; Barton P. Miller, University of Wisconsin at Madison;
    Leonid Oliker, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Allan Snavely, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego; Jeffrey S. Vetter, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Katherine A. Yelick, University of California at Berkeley; Bronis R. de Supinski, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
    INCITE Allocation: 30,000,000 processor hours (20,000,000 on Cray XT at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; 10,000,000 hours on IBM Blue Gene/P at Argonne National Laboratory.)

    Research Summary: To maximize the utility of DOE leadership class systems such as the Cray XT4, Cray XT5, and IBM Blue Gene/P, the systems must be used as efficiently as possible. To provide further understanding of these high-end systems, this proposal focuses on four primary goals: (1) to update and extend performance evaluation of all systems using suites of both standard and custom micro, kernel, and application benchmarks; (2) to continue to port performance tools and performance middleware to the BG/P and XT4/5; (3) to validate the effectiveness of performance prediction technologies, modifying them as necessary to improve their utility for predicting resource requirements for production runs on these leadership-class systems; and (4) to analyze and help optimize current or leadership class application codes.

  • Physics: "Validation of Plasma Microturbulence Simulations for Finite-Beta Fusion Experiments."

    Principal Investigator: William Nevins, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
    Co-Investigators: Jeff Candy, General Atomics; William Dorland, University of Maryland; Darin Ernst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Greg Hammett, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; Christopher Holland, Center for Energy Research, UC San Diego; David Mikkelsen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; Scott Parker, University of Colorado.
    INCITE Allocation: 20,000,000 processor hours on Cray XT at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Research Summary: One of the primary challenges in realizing the promise of magnetic fusion energy is understanding and controlling the turbulent transport of heat, momentum, and particles across magnetic surfaces. Developing a predictive modeling capability of this transport has been identified as a major goal for the U.S. fusion program, and achieving it requires the validation of high-fidelity plasma microturbulence codes. This proposal seeks to validate the three most advanced plasma microturbulence codes in the U.S. program (GYRO, GS2, and GEM) in order to address the U.S. fusion program goal of developing a predictive understanding of plasma transport.

  • Earth Science: "Deterministic Simulations of Large Regional Earthquakes at Frequencies up to 4 HZ"

    Principal Investigator: Thomas Jordan, Southern California Earthquake Center and University of Southern California.
    Co-Investigators: Jacobo Bielak, Carnegie Mellon University; Po Chen, University of Wyoming; Yifeng Cui, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego; Philip J. Maechling, University of Southern California; Kim Olsen, San Diego State University.
    INCITE Allocation: 10,000,000 processor hours on IBM Blue Gene/P at Argonne National Laboratory.

    Research Summary: An interdisciplinary research team from the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) is conducting and analyzing earthquake wave propagation simulations of large-scenario (Magnitude 7.0 or larger) earthquakes at frequencies above 1Hz on a regional scale. (See the team's most recent research on the largest earthquake simulation to-date.) The INCITE project has two primary goals: (1) to investigate the upper frequency limits of deterministic ground motion simulations, and (2) to better quantify how high-frequency seismic waves from large earthquakes contribute to the seismic hazard in Southern California and other regions.

  • 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, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego.
    Co-Investigator: Mark Miller, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego.
    INCITE Allocation: 4,000,000 processor hours on IBM Blue Gene/P at Argonne National Laboratory.

    Research summary: As the second most common neurological disorder in adults, the personal and economic impacts of Parkinson's disease are enormous. Currently, there are more than two million cases in the United States alone, exacting an annual cost of $25 billion on the nation's economy. A research team from UC San Diego has been leveraging the power of the Blue Gene/P supercomputer to learn more about the molecular basis of this disease and explore ways to treat it. To date, researchers have found an encouraging correlation between their molecular dynamics modeling predictions and laboratory experimental results. The team expects to make continued steady progress, both with the computational model and the design of effective drugs based on modeling and simulations.

Now in its eighth year, INCITE supports computationally intensive scientific investigations, allowing researchers at national laboratories, universities, and throughout industry to explore a wide range of scientific challenges. Many of the new and continuing INCITE projects aim to further renewable energy solutions and understand of the environmental impacts of energy use. The program, open to all scientists, is supported by the Department's Office of Science and managed by the DOE Leadership Computing Facilities at the Department's Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE 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, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall as one of the National Science Foundation's first supercomputer centers. SDSC is a founding member of TeraGrid, the nation's largest open-access scientific discovery infrastructure.

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 -