The new Dell EMC petaflop-scale supercomputer has six times more processing power and 20 times more bandwidth than its predecessor.

The new computing system, TX-Green, at the Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center (LLSC) has been named the most powerful supercomputer in New England and 3rd most powerful at a U.S. university. A team of experts at ranks the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers biannually. The systems are ranked based on a LINPACK Benchmark, which is a measure of a system's floating-point computing power, i.e., how fast a computer solves a dense system of linear equations.


Established in early 2016, the LLSC was developed to enhance computing power and accessibility for more than 1000 researchers across the Laboratory. The LLSC uses interactive supercomputing to augment the processing power of desktop systems to process larger sets of sensor data, create higher-fidelity simulations, and develop new algorithms. Located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the new system is the only zero-carbon supercomputer on the TOP500 list. It uses energy from a mixture of hydroelectric, wind, solar, and nuclear sources.

In November, Dell EMC installed a new petaflop-scale system, which consists of 41,472 Intel processor cores and can compute 1015 operations per second. Compared to LLSC's previous technology, the new system provides six times more processing power and 20 times more bandwidth. This technology enables research in several Laboratory research areas, such as space observation, robotic vehicles, communications, cyber security, machine learning, sensor processing, electronic devices, bioinformatics, and air traffic control.

The LLSC mission is to address supercomputing needs, develop new supercomputing capabilities and technologies, and collaborate with MIT campus supercomputing initiatives. "The LLSC vision is to enable the brilliant scientists and engineers at Lincoln Laboratory to analyze and process enormous amounts of information with complex algorithms," said Jeremy Kepner, Laboratory Fellow and head of the LLSC. "Our new system is one of the largest on the East Coast and is specifically focused on enabling new research in machine learning, advanced physical devices, and autonomous systems."

The Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center team unveiled the center on 1 April 2016. Photo: Jon Barron
The Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center team unveiled the center on 1 April 2016. Photo: Jon Barron

Because the new processors are similar to the prototypes developed at the Laboratory more than two decades ago, the new petaflop system is compatible with all existing LLSC software. "We have had many years to prepare our computing system for this kind of processor," Kepner said. "This new system is essentially a plug-and-play solution."

After establishing the Supercomputing Center and one of the top systems in the world, the LLSC team will continue to upgrade and expand supercomputing at the Laboratory. Kepner said, "Our hope is that this system is the first of many such large-scale systems at Lincoln Laboratory."