TACC dedicates most powerful supercomputer

Ranger, the most powerful supercomputing system in the world for open science research was dedicated Feb. 22 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). This first-of-its-kind system entered full production on Feb. 4.

Ranger's deployment marks the beginning of the Petascale Era in high-performance computing (HPC) where systems will approach a thousand trillion floating point operations per second and manage a thousand trillion bytes of data.

Ranger is the largest HPC computing resource on the NSF TeraGrid, a nationwide network of academic HPC centers that provides scientists and researchers access to large-scale computing power and resources. Ranger will provide more than 500 million processor hours of computing time to the science community, performing more than 200,000 years of computational work over its four-year lifetime.

"Ranger is the first of the new 'Path to Petascale' systems that NSF provides to open science. It is out in front on the pathway to sustained petascale performance," said Daniel Atkins, director of the NSF's Office of Cyberinfrastructure. "This system and others to come underscore NSF's commitment to world-class, high-performance computing ensuring that the U.S. is a leader in computational science. No longer used by a handful of elite researchers in a few research communities on select problems, advanced computing has become essential to the way science and engineering research and education are accomplished."

Ranger is a collaboration among TACC, the university's Institute for Computational and Engineering Sciences (ICES), Sun Microsystems, Advanced Micro Devices, Arizona State University and Cornell University. The $59 million award covers the system and four years of operating costs.

TACC Director Jay Boisseau said, "Ranger provides incredible new capabilities for computational researchers across the nation and world. Its computational power, memory and storage capacity greatly exceed anything the open science community has had access to. It takes tremendous expertise to deploy and support research on such a system as well as to use it effectively, but it is an awesome honor and responsibility for us at TACC. Together with our partners, we are excited about fulfilling the promise of Ranger by helping researchers achieve breakthrough science across domains and disciplines discoveries that will really change the world as well as our understanding of it."

At more than one-half a petaflop of peak performance (504 teraflops), Ranger is up to 50,000 times more powerful than today's PCs, and five times more capable than any open-science computer available to the national science community. Ranger is built on the Sun Constellation System which combines ultra-dense, high-performance compute, networking, storage and software into an integrated general purpose system.

Ranger offers more than six times the performance of the previous largest system for open science research. The boost in performance offered by Ranger relative to the previously largest open science machine is comparable to reducing the flight time from New York to London to just one hour.

Ranger and other petascale systems to follow will address many of society's most pervasive grand challenges including global climate change, water resource management, new energy sources, natural disasters, new materials and manufacturing processes, tissue and organ engineering, patient-specific medical therapies and drug design. These issues cannot be addressed or overcome without modeling and simulation.

"Our world is facing great challenges and grappling with big questions across a broad spectrum," said William Powers Jr., president of the university. "Advances in computer technology, like the new Ranger supercomputer at UT Austin, will help us manage and understand the vast streams of data flowing into our research. Ranger will attract the nation's leading researchers and accelerate their work to produce faster, more probing analyses of the information they generate. There is no question that Ranger's massive computing power will lead to some of the most significant discoveries of our time. We are pleased that UT Austin and the Texas Advanced Computing Center are playing a leadership role in this endeavor."

For more information on Ranger, please visit: www.rangersupercomputer.com.