October 30, 2006

Sandia computational science projects funded by the DOE Office of Science

Sandia researcher Bob Armstrong received funding to do plug-and-play supercomputing SANDIA RESEARCHER ROB ARMSTRONG received funding to do "plug-and-play" supercomputing. (Photo by Nancy Garcia)
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Eight Sandia National Laboratories computational science projects have been awarded a total of $2.9 million annually over the next five years by the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) within the DOE Office of Science. The announcement of the awards was made last month after a competitive, peer-reviewed proposal process.

The Office of Science’s “Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing” (SciDAC) program is making the funding available to 30 projects, of which Sandia is involved in eight. Participating in the 30 projects are 70 institutional partners and hundreds of researchers and students. All of the projects involve several partners and large-scale collaborations.

The projects of which Sandia is a part all entail large-scale computer simulations aimed at accelerating research in a wide range of areas, including the design of new materials, developing future energy sources, studying global climate change, and understanding physics from the tiniest particles to the massive explosions of supernovae.

“Among the reasons the Sandia projects were awarded funding is our unique experience using high-performance computers,” says Scott Collis, point of contact for Sandia’s ASCR research. “Our ongoing work in both designing and using state-of-the-art supercomputers such as Red Storm and Thunderbird [computers] has provided us expertise in supercomputing that is respected around the country.”

He adds, “This expertise crosscuts Sandia sites in New Mexico and California, as does the SciDAC funding.”

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Sandia researchers Mark Taylor and Bill Spotz SANDIA RESEARCHERS Mark Taylor, left, and Bill Spotz will spend the next five years trying to figure out what the future might hold for the Earth’s atmosphere by collaborating on a large-scale computer model. (Photo by Chris Burroughs)
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SciDAC computational work will be done on new DOE petascale computers that are planned to go into operation at Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories by the end of the decade.

Petascale computing refers to petaflops, a million billion calculations per second, and petabytes, a million billion bytes of data. This level of computing power will enable researchers to study scientific problems at an unprecedented level of detail. For example, current models allow scientists to design materials with thousands of atoms, while petascale computing will allow models with millions of atoms, yielding more accurate simulations that will promote fundamental scientific discovery.

Sandia projects awarded SciDAC funding include:

Collis says an important aspect of these projects is that they will allow Sandia to develop even more collaborations in the high-computing world, both in the DOE laboratory complex and throughout academia.

“We’ll gain additional experience and capability in using supercomputers that will have impact far beyond the individual SciDAC projects,” he says. “At the same time, we will be able to pursue cutting-edge collaborative science in a wide range of areas. And the most exciting aspect of this funding is that it will result in new discoveries that we can’t yet predict.”

See, “Sandians to spend next five years figuring out the future of the Earth’s atmosphere through modeling.”

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Chris Burroughs,, (505) 844-0948