U.S. Department of Energy Approves Funds for Supercomputer Updates

A federal agency signed off Tuesday on a $57 million effort to recharge its current crop of supercomputers, sprinkling more than $7 million toward projects involving a local university and science lab.

Old Dominion University and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility are two of more than 60 research institutions taking part in the U.S. Department of Energy's five-year attempt to update software coding and machinery for these supercomputers.

With $3.3 million this year, ODU will lead three national science labs and five other universities in writing complex algorithms to allow these supercomputers to crunch trillions of calculations - 100,000 lifetimes worth of punching buttons - in a single second.

Jefferson Lab will help lead a project to write software codes to calculate the reactions of subatomic particles, like quarks and gluons. This roughly $2 million project - equaling $6 million over three years - also enlists the Newport News lab and supporting institutions to build a prototype for a $10 million supercomputer.

The plan is to construct three such supercomputers, one of which could lie on Jefferson Lab's own campus.

The lab is also involved in a second $6 million, three-year project to map out a computing grid that researchers across the country can tap into for their calculations.