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November 25, 2002

Sandia’s Salinas code shares Gordon Bell Award

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories’ supercomputer program Salinas, which tested out at 1.16 teraflops/sec, shared the prestigious Gordon Bell Award at the SC2002 conference last week in Baltimore.

The Gordon Bell Award was established to reward practical use of parallel processors by giving a prize for the best performance improvement in an application. The award is given annually at the high performance computing and networking conference.

Other recipients of the award included three Japanese contestants and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Salinas was listed as a “special award.”

Making it to the finals of this year’s Gordon Bell Awards was a great achievement for the creators of Salinas. There had been only 38 entries worldwide deemed acceptable to be judged by a committee of experts led by Thomas Sterling of Cal Tech.

The contest has been characterized by Sandia researcher Mike McGlaun as “the Superbowl of supercomputing.”

Salinas, a massively parallel structural dynamics code, simulates the response of a structure under various loads and also predicts the natural frequencies of a structure under varying stress. It is a practical, widely used program that can simulate the stresses on aircraft carriers and buildings, as well as on reentry vehicles and certain aspects of the nuclear stockpile. It was the first Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) program to become a Gordon Bell Award contender. ASCI is a Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration program.

Tom Bickel, Sandia’s Center for Engineering Science director, said “This is the first time a true engineering code has won the Gordon Bell award.”

Bickel praised the other winning entries but compared Sandia’s Salinas entry to the Japanese programs as “the difference between doing one step in the solution very fast versus solving the entire problem” — that is, the Sandia program was far more extensive. “Salinas is already having impact on Sandia’s nuclear weapon mission.”

This is the third time Sandia has won the Gordon Bell award.

Sandia Media Relations Contact: Chris Miller,, (505) 844-5550

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