University Part of Consortium Helping to Roll Out New Supercomputer

September 2, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— Illinois Wesleyan University is part of a consortium that will play a critical role in the deployment of a powerful new supercomputer.

Illinois Wesleyan is part of the Great Lakes Consortium (GLC), a collaboration of dozens of universities, colleges, research laboratories and institutes from around the country. The GLC is  developing the world's first sustained “petascale” computational system dedicated to open scientific research.  Once built, the computer will be housed at National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) on the campus of The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I).

This unprecedented machine, based on a powerful new system design from IBM, will be called Blue Waters.  Supported by a $208 million grant from the National Science Foundation, it will come online in 2011 at the U of I.

“IWU appreciates how quickly emerging techniques become woven into the technological and educational fabric of our society,” said Rebecca Roesner, chair of the Chemistry Department at Illinois Wesleyan, who noted several faculty members are exploring how the activities of the Great Lakes Consortium might dovetail with their ongoing scholarly efforts.

The system will provide sustained double-precision performance of at least "1 petaflop" on a range of science and engineering applications that researchers use every day, according to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

“Participation in the GLC, and access to a petascale facility like Blue Waters, affords IWU faculty and students a rare opportunity to be at the forefront of an important, emerging field,” said Roesner. “This will heighten awareness on campus of parallel computing and supercomputing and offer opportunities for faculty to integrate these techniques into their teaching and research.”

According to organizers, the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation is committed to encouraging the widespread and effective use of petascale computing to advance scientific discovery and the state-of-the-art in engineering, to increasing regional and national competitiveness and to training tomorrow’s computational researchers and educators.

“Blue Waters will be an unrivaled national asset, dedicated to scientific research that will have a powerful impact on society,” said Thom Dunning, NCSA director and a professor of chemistry at the U of I. “Our nation's top scientists – simulating new medicines or materials, the weather, disease outbreaks, or complex engineered systems like power plants and aircraft – are poised to make discoveries that we can only begin to imagine. Blue Waters and the scientists, engineers, technologists and educators of the Great Lakes Consortium are crucial to that success.”

For more information on Blue Waters, see: For more information on the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation, see:

Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960