New supercomputer may find answers to some of Earth's problems

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Washington, July 28 (ANI): Reports indicate that the newest supercomputer, which can perform more than 160 trillion calculations per second, is ready to take on problems in areas such as climate science, hydrogen storage and molecular chemistry.

The 21.4 million dollar Chinook supercomputer, built by HP, is almost 15 times faster than its predecessor, and has now been commissioned for use by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the (US) Department of Energy.

Chinook can perform more than 160 trillion calculations per second, ranking it in the top 40 fastest computers in the world. Its predecessor, EMSL's MPP2, could run 11.2 trillion calculations per second.

Although housed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, scientists the world over can use Chinook, competing for time through a peer review process.

"When combined with EMSL's experimental capabilities, the new Chinook supercomputer will provide scientists from academia, national laboratories, and industry with an unprecedented research tool," said Anna Palmisano, DOE associate director for Biological and Environmental Research.

"This new supercomputer will allow scientists to develop a molecular-level understanding of the complex biological, chemical and physical processes that underlie the environmental and energy challenges facing DOE and the nation," she added.

Chinook is fast and dexterous. Its designers tailored its architecture to handle scientific problems whose complexity require more than just power or speed.

Chinook's top job is to run NWChem, a computational chemistry program that allows researchers to simulate and predict the chemistry within and between molecules.

But, a wide variety of programs can run on the supercomputer.

For example, scientists are using Chinook to understand pockets of fuels such as methane often found deep under the sea, trapped in a lattice of water molecules.

Researchers hope to understand these gas hydrates both as a fuel source and as a way to store fuels.

But for such a simple molecule, water has pretty complex chemistry. Researchers are using Chinook to help understand how water molecules form stable clusters.

The work also gives researchers insight into how small particles in the air form clouds or break them up.

Also, researchers use Chinook to understand the inner workings of communities of bacteria living and growing in the soil and how they form communities in order to take advantage of their clean-up skills regarding toxic substances in contaminated ground. (ANI)

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