Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Mike Bradley ()
Communications and External Relations


Wadsworth says U.S. must regain supercomputing leadership

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 24, 2004 — Regaining world leadership in high-performance computing is critical to U.S. science and technology, commercial competitiveness and economic growth, the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory told the Senate Energy Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Jeff Wadsworth's testimony was part of the subcommittee's examination of the Department of Energy's goals for high-performance computing and Oak Ridge National Laboratory's role in helping the nation reach those goals.

Wadsworth said many important scientific challenges such as climate change and fusion energy are too large or too complex for a conventional experiment, but can be addressed through computational modeling.

U.S. defense laboratories have done a good job developing supercomputers for classified weapons research, but unclassified supercomputing research has grown stagnant, he said. In 2002, the Japanese Earth Simulator's peak capacity of 37 teraflops, or 37 trillion calculations per second, surpassed the 20 largest unclassified U.S. computers combined.

"In the field of high-performance computing, if you are standing still, you are really falling behind," Wadsworth said. "Without question, America had surrendered our leadership in high-performance computing. Japan's leadership could seriously weaken U.S. economic growth, science and technology, and international prestige."

Wadsworth said the National Leadership Computing Facility (NLCF) at ORNL will provide the foundation to propel the nation back to the forefront of high performance computing.

Established in May and funded by DOE, the NLCF proposes a five-year plan that will pool the computational resources of ORNL and the NLCF partners for a sustained capacity of 50 teraflops and a peak capacity of more than 250 teraflops.

"The NLCF brings together world-class researchers from national laboratories, universities, and industry; a proven, aggressive, and sustainable hardware path; an experienced operational team; a strategy for delivering true capability computing; and modern computing facilities connected to the national infrastructure through state-of-the-art networking to deliver breakthrough science," Wadsworth said.