Grand Challenge Program

Erik Draeger with simulation

An image from a 25-picosecond, 1,700-atom Qbox simulation performed on the Vulcan supercomputer shows a lithium-ion cell anode–electrolyte interface. This calculation was carried out in support of a DOE SciDAC project— a 5-year, multi-institution effort: John Pask, PI; Vincenzo Lordi; Mitchell Ong. Visualization by Liam Krauss. Pictured, Erik Draeger, Qbox at LLNL.

The Computing Grand Challenge Program allocates significant quantities of institutional computational resources to LLNL researchers to perform cutting edge research on the LC capability computers.

Institutional Computing Grand Challenge program celebrates its 14th campaign

Research projects ranging in scope from improving the targeting of drug therapy for cancer patients to focusing on computing fission barriers of heavy elements were among those allocated time on Laboratory supercomputers under the recently announced Institutional Unclassified Computing Grand Challenge Awards. The 14th Annual Computing Grand Challenge campaign awarded over 72 thousand node hours per week to projects such as these that address compelling, large-scale problems, push the envelope of capability computing, and advance science. “The diversity and quality of this year’s proposals reflect the scientific breadth and excellence of LLNL’s computational science community.  These activities are part of what makes the Lab such an exciting place to work,” said Bruce Hendrickson, Computation Associate Director.

Teams with winning proposals will be allocated time on Quartz, a 3-petaFLOP/s machine, and Lassen, a ~23 petaFLOP/s machine. Quartz and Lassen are systems dedicated to unclassified research through the Laboratory’s Multiprogrammatic & Institutional Computing (M&IC) program. Core time is measured across the multiple cores in a computer. For example, two core-hours can be one core used for two hours or two cores used for one hour. High performance computers generally consist of thousands of cores; the Quartz system has 2,976 nodes each with 36 cores, for a total of 107,136 cores, while Lassen has 788 nodes each with 44 cores and 4 GPUs , for a total of 30,096 cores and 3,152 GPUs. This makes the Lassen nodes much more powerful than those on Vulcan for codes that have been written or modified to use the powerful GPUs.  

“The computing allocations announced today in the Computing Grand Challenge program directly support continuing excellence in our computing, simulation, and data science core competency,” said Pat Falcone, Deputy Director for Science & Technology. “Execution of these research projects with the allocated compute time will extend our capabilities as well as deliver important scientific discoveries.” 

Project proposals were reviewed by a minimum of two internal and two external referees. Criteria used in selecting the projects included: quality and potential impact of proposed science and/or engineering, impact of proposed utilization of Grand Challenge computing resources, ability to effectively utilize a high-performance institutional computing infrastructure, quality and extent of external collaborations, and alignment with the Laboratory strategic vision. Allocations were awarded in two categories, Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 projects receive a higher allocation and a higher priority. 

Over the last 20 years, high performance computing resources dedicated to unclassified research have increased more than 10,000-fold from 72 gigaFLOPS in 1997 to almost 28 petaFLOPS today. To put that in perspective, only seven countries in the world possess more computing resources than the Laboratory makes available for unclassified computing.

See the chart for allocations awarded under the Computing Grand Challenge program.

Information about Grand Challenge projects and allocations awarded since March 2005 and Grand Challenge utilization data is available as noted below.

Grand Challenge Projects/Allocations

For those with internal site access, all 12 years of Grand Challenge project titles and PI's are available on our Grand Challenge Project page and subpages.

Grand Challenge Utilization Data

For those with internal site access, all Grand Challenge project titles and allocations are in our Utilization Data area.