Tennessee Alumnus

Kraken Scales Supercomputer Ranks

Kraken Scales Supercomputer Ranks

UT’s new supercomputer is an official member of the computing elite. The classy machine ranked 15th in the latest Top 500 list of the world’s most powerful computers.

Named Kraken, after a mythical Norse sea monster, the new machine clocked in at a seemingly supernatural peak speed of 166 teraflops, or 166 trillion calculations per second, in just its first few months of operation, which also makes it the world’s second most-powerful academic supercomputer.

More upgrades in the coming months will make it even faster, with a final estimated power that would place it in what is known as the peta­scale—1,000 trillion calculations per second, and a major milestone in high-performance computing. The system is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and part of UT’s National Institute for Computational Science (NICS). “This latest upgrade greatly enhances Kraken’s ability to confront some of science’s most-daunting unanswered questions in a number of fields from astrophysics to climate change to biology,” said Thomas Zacharia, UT vice-president for science and technology and an associate laboratory director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Kraken also will support all types of climate simulations, such as carbon dioxide cycles and the role of ocean currents. Just as previous modeling efforts in East Tennessee contributed to the research for which the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was awarded a recent Nobel Prize, Kraken will contribute to an understanding of the impacts of human activity on climate change and global warming.

Kraken and NICS (www.nics.tennessee.edu) stem from an NSF Track II award of $65 million to UT and its partners. NICS won the award in an open competition with leading computing institutions across the country.

The Top 500 list is created every 6 months by UT Knoxville Distinguished Professor Jack Dongarra and colleagues at other institutions.