Linux Network to build Linux supercomputer for Los Alamos

September 23, 2002

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Sept. 23, 2002 -- Los Alamos National Laboratory has selected Linux NetworX of Salt Lake City, Utah, to build, integrate and deliver a 1,024-processor Linux cluster computer. Purchase details were not disclosed.

Dubbed "The Science Appliance" by the Laboratory's researchers, the cluster is a model for future supercomputing systems that will support the Laboratory's mission of stewardship of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. When delivered, the cluster is expected to be one of the five fastest supercomputers in the world at 10 trillion operations per second.

"Future supercomputers must be cost-effective, efficient and easy to enhance and scale. Scalable supercomputing systems that run proprietary operating systems clearly are a thing of the past," said Bill Feiereisen, leader of Los Alamos' Computer and Computational Sciences Division. "Instead of buying a complete proprietary computing system, we are looking toward a future in which a robust set of integrated, open source software tools enables us to assemble a truly scalable supercomputer from components that best meet our needs. We are excited by the new partnership with Linux NetworX to help advance these goals."

When delivered, the Linux NetworX Evolocity(tm) cluster will be the largest system ever to deploy LinuxBIOS on diskless nodes. LinuxBIOS, an open source BIOS alternative developed by Los Alamos with key contributions from Linux NetworX and others, replaces the proprietary BIOS with an open source BIOS that makes clusters easier to install and manage. Linux NetworX will be responsible for implementing several LinuxBIOS enhancements and for porting LinuxBIOS to the platform.

LinuxBIOS allows each node to operate without a hard disk. The absence of disks on individual nodes decreases the number of components within the system that can fail or generate heat, significantly increasing the reliability of the system.

"LinuxBIOS greatly simplifies cluster systems," said Ron Minnich, team leader for cluster research at Los Alamos' Advanced Computing Laboratory. "The success of open source projects, such as LinuxBIOS are crucial to improving clustering technology."

Purchase of the "Science Appliance" was funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration's Advanced Simulation and Computing program. The Linux NetworX cluster will be used solely for unclassified computing, including testing on ASCI-relevant unclassified applications, and will serve as a prototype for future supercomputers that will use simulation and visualization tools to maintain the aging U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear testing.

The experimental cluster system will give Los Alamos researchers opportunities to improve the open source software environment, parallel file systems and ancillary operating system software to prepare for future classified supercomputers.

"The fundamental computer science research taking place today ultimately will create the software 'glue' that will make it possible to assemble larger and larger clusters," Feiereisen said.

"The cluster to be delivered to Los Alamos is another demonstration of how Linux NetworX is being recognized for its expertise and contributions to the clustering community," said Stephen Hill, Linux NetworX President and CEO. "We are excited to be continually developing clustering technology and management tools to help organizations such as Los Alamos maximize their cluster supercomputing investment."
More information is available on the web at:

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA's Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.

For more Los Alamos news, visit

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

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