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Local News

Faster supercomputer coming to Argonne

Argonne National Laboratory is slated to get a faster supercomputer.

Government officials announced Friday that Argonne, located near Lemont and Woodridge, is one of three national laboratories that will get supercomputers.

The new technology will "put the nation on a fast-track to next generation exascale computing, which will help to advance U.S. leadership in scientific research and promote America's economic and national security," according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Argonne already is home to the fifth fastest supercomputer in the world, said U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, R-Naperville, whose district includes part of the Argonne site.

The new supercomputer will be 10 to 15 times faster than MIRA, the supercomputer now at Argonne, Foster said. The supercomputer should arrive sometime in 2017, he said.

"It means that they will be able to attack a wider variety of problems and get their answers faster," Foster said.

He said one example of research being done at Argonne that will be aided by a faster supercomputer is the development of new battery technology for use in electric cars and power grids.

"Instead of making prototype batteries of every different type of chemistry, they're able to investigate them on the computer," Foster said.

Argonne National Laboratory is split between Foster's district and that of U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs.
Lipinski issued a statement saying in part, "We're fortunate in Illinois to have two of the fastest supercomputers in the world in MIRA at Argonne and Blue Waters at the University of Illinois."

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that $325 million will be spent to build two state-of-the art supercomputers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Details on the Argonne supercomputer will be announced later, according to the Energy Department.

Foster said the price tag on the Argonne supercomputer should be comparable with those at the other two national laboratories. But, "the specifications for the Argonne machine have not been completed," he said.

The Argonne, Oak Ridge and Livermore national laboratories are part of a consortium that goes by the acronym CORAL. It was created early this year, according to the news release from the Energy Department, "to leverage supercomputing investments, streamline procurement processes and reduce costs to develop supercomputers that will be five to seven times more powerful than today's U.S. fastest systems when fully deployed."

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