Mines unveils energy supercomputer 'Ra'

GOLDEN, Colo., May 6, 2008 – Colorado School of Mines will celebrate the acquisition of its new high performance computing cluster during a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. May 9 in the Center for Technology and Learning Media building, 1650 Arapahoe St.

The supercomputer – nicknamed “Ra”, after the ancient Egyptian sun god ­– is dedicated to energy-related science. Ra is managed by the Golden Energy Computing Organization (GECO), a partnership between Mines, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Science Foundation.

GECO has four main priority areas: pursuing renewable resources, locating and developing existing resources, advancing environmental stewardship, and designing new energy related materials.

“National efforts to discover and develop new sources of energy will be positively impacted by thecreation of this GECO cluster,” said Mark Lusk, GECO director.

Ra’s estimated peak performance is 23 teraflops—fast enough to do more than 3,000 calculations per second for each of the 6.6 billion people on the planet. This places the machine well within the top 100 fastest computers in the world.

In addition to spurring the creation of several new scientific computing programs at Mines, the center is likely to draw researchers together and attract additional research funding. The center also sponsors outreach programs and will provide support for educational programs in high performance computing to colleges and organizations serving underrepresented populations.

The first outreach program was established with Salish Kootenai College, a four-year institution on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. The college offers a B.S. degrees in information technology and computer engineering, and GECO will provide students with hands-on training and supercomputer user accounts. 

A second outreach collaboration was established between GECO and the Mines section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). A team of SWE members will be trained on the GECO cluster and will make presentations at local high schools to promote interest in energy related fields. 

Ra is linked to the Front Range GigaPop - a consortium of 16 government, educational and research institutions. By fostering closer links among these institutions, GECO will enhance the regional synergy among agencies concerned with computational research, while providing a powerful new resource in support of Mines' mission in energy science.

Founded in 1874, Colorado School of Mines was established to serve the needs of the local mining industry. Today, the School has an international reputation for excellence in both engineering education and the applied sciences with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's resources. For more information about Colorado School of Mines, visit www.mines.edu.

Karen Gilbert, Public Relations Specialist
303-273-3541 / Karen.Gilbert@is.mines.edu

Marsha Williams, Director of Integrated Marketing Communications
303-273-3326 / marswill@mines.edu


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