Tour Stop #2: Idaho Lights it Up

By Dan Olds

November 7, 2022

I didn’t have to drive much to check Idaho National Laboratory (INL) off my 2022 Great American Supercomputing Road Trip list. The interview was originally scheduled for Friday, but the lab takes Friday off occasionally, and I didn’t want to make anyone come into work on their day off, so we agreed to do it virtually.

INL is the only national lab that focuses on making nuclear energy better and safer from both a generation perspective, but also from a security standpoint. That’s a good thing, because if we’re hell-bent on getting off of fossil fuels, we’re going to need more nuclear energy in our future.

We were lucky to have both Eric Whiting, director of the advanced computing division at INL, and Matthew Anderson, the HPC manager of the lab, join us for this interview.

They’ve been busy since my last interview in 2018, adding 120,000 cores worth of HPC clusters, plus a new building to boot. They’re using some accelerators, but not a lot as most of the nuclear codes aren’t really well suited to accelerators. They also do use public cloud, but it’s more of a stopgap for processing data that’s already on a public cloud. As the data storage capabilities of the lab increase, this processing will come home to lab systems.

We covered a lot of other topics, including some very specific advice about future lab and general HPC needs. One of the most interesting is Eric’s request for standardization when it comes to liquid cooling hardware.

Shout out to our sponsors HPE, GigaIO, Cornelis Networks, and Dell Technologies for making the trip possible and to HPCwire for giving us the space to show you what we’re seeing.

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