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Press Release

Brown, IBM Unveil Multimillion-Dollar Supercomputer

Most Powerful Computing System in Rhode Island Will Be Used by Researchers Statewide

IBM News on Ulitzer

Brown University and IBM today announced the opening of a multimillion-dollar supercomputer at Brown's Center for Computation and Visualization. The supercomputer is the most powerful computational system in Rhode Island and will be used by researchers statewide to tackle "grand challenges" affecting Ocean State residents in climate change, education, energy and health.

Brown and IBM will work with government, universities, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, businesses and other entities in Rhode Island on using the supercomputer.

To better define which challenges will be undertaken, during the next several months Brown and IBM will host a series of symposia involving world-class scientific experts to discuss how the supercomputer can be used to tackle pressing societal problems in Rhode Island.

"Combined, the supercomputer and the symposia allow us to begin to tackle our state's most sobering challenges, thus allowing for economic growth and stability through productivity, innovation and competitiveness," said Clyde Briant, vice president for research at Brown.

The new supercomputer can perform more than 14 trillion calculations per second -- nearly 50 times faster than what had been available at Brown -- making it the most powerful computing system in Rhode Island, according to IBM. The system operates at a peak performance speed of more than 14 teraflops, widely considered to meet supercomputer standards.

Examples of the wide areas of research that will take advantage of the increased computing horsepower include advances in genomics that could lead to drugs for treating specific diseases such as cancer; investigation of the mechanics of human and animal movement; exploration of the web of animal life and ocean ecosystems; and studies of the terrain of planetary bodies, such as Mars.

"We live in an era where computer-enabled research cuts across all research and opens entirely new pursuits and innovations. However, this work demands greater computational capacity in terms of speed and the ability to handle large amounts of data," said Jan Hesthaven, professor of applied mathematics and director of the Center for Computation and Visualization. "We now have a computing system for these times."

The benefits to faculty and graduate researchers are many. Research projects that involve intricate, voluminous datasets will be executed on campus, rather than having to be done elsewhere. The supercomputer also enhances research that involves multiple departments, capitalizing on Brown's strength in interdisciplinary research, as well as increasing funding opportunities for major research initiatives.

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