The sustained-petaflop computing power and massive data resources provided by the Blue Waters system enable scientists and engineers from a wide range of disciplines and from institutions across the United States to make extraordinary leaps in knowledge and discovery. The petascale research conducted with Blue Waters provides new insights into hurricanes and tornadoes, supernovae, the formation of galaxies, earthquakes, and more.
2017 Blue Waters Annual Report
Blue Waters has accelerated research and impact across an enormous range of science and engineering disciplines throughout its more than 4-year history covered by the report series. This year is no different.
Scientific impacts from just three years of Blue Waters
Highlights from an investigation and evaluation of the scientific results from the NCSA Blue Waters supercomputer system.
Blue Waters supercomputer aids a new era for gravitational wave discovery
For the first time Blue Waters was used to numerically model gravitational wave sources with the Einstein Toolkit, and then use numerical relativity waveforms to search for gravitational wave transients in LIGO data.
Blue Waters helps DES map the skies
Using Blue Waters, new result rivals precision of cosmic microwave background measurements, supports view that dark matter and dark energy make up most of the cosmos.
Seeing the Beginning of Time
The NCSA Advanced Visualization Lab developed state-of-the-art technologies and used the Blue Waters supercomputer to create cinematic production-quality data visualizations showcasing hundreds of millions of years of galactic evolution.
Blue Waters' Economic Impact
The study finds that the Blue Waters project—which is a joint investment between the State of Illinois, the University of Illinois, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and related activities funded by the university, NSF and other federal agencies—has a projected $1.08 billion direct economic impact on Illinois' economy and will have created 5,772 full-time equivalent employment over the project's lifespan.
Workload study: Blue Waters enables large-scale science
The report shows how different communities and fields of science have made effective use of the system since full service began in 2013, providing insight to the supercomputing community on the benefits of some of the hardware decisions the Blue Waters project made.
ExxonMobil sets record using Blue Waters
The breakthrough in parallel simulation used 716,800 processors, the equivalent of harnessing the power of 22,400 computers with 32 processors per computer. ExxonMobil geoscientists and engineers can now make better investment decisions by more efficiently predicting reservoir performance under geological uncertainty to assess a higher volume of alternative development plans in less time.
New research brings earthquake prediction a step closer
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign geology professor Lijun Liu ran models of 100 cores each on Blue Waters to help them develop a method to estimate weakness in the Earth's outer layers.
Blue Waters simulates largest membrane channel made of DNA origami
Aleksei Aksimentiev's group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign simulated the largest synthetic membrane channel made of DNA origami. Their work has been published in ACS Nano.
Blue Waters generates 800 million maps to combat gerrymandering
University of Illinois researchers Professor Wendy K. Tam Cho and Yan Y. Liu recently won 1st place in the Common Cause 2016 First Amendment Gerrymander Standard Writing Competition with their proposal of a novel method for identifying partisan gerrymandering.
Blue Waters maps the Arctic
Paul Morin, head of the University of Minnesota's Polar Geospatial Center, is using Blue Waters to create digital elevation models that are swiftly changing what we know about the Arctic.
Simulations describe HIV's 'diabolical delivery device'
Blue Waters researchers developed an innovative computer model of HIV that gives real insight into how a virus "matures" and becomes infective. Their findings appeared in the May 13 edition of Nature Communications.
Supercomputer changing genetic medicine in Africa
Members of the Blue Waters team recently made it possible to discover genomic variants in over 300 deeply sequenced human samples to help construct a genotyping chip specific for African populations.
Cool work on Blue Waters earns Illinois professors editor's choice pick
Blue Waters Professor So Hirata used the supercomputer to explore a very cold topic: ice. And a resulting article was tapped as an "editor's pick" by the Journal of Chemical Physics.
DNA molecules directly interact with each other
Using Blue Waters supercomputer simulations, researchers find DNA molecules interact with each other based on sequence.
Blue Waters researchers discover "dark galaxy"
As published in the Astrophysical Journal, researchers have uncovered the existence of a dwarf "dark galaxy" lurking nearly 4 billion light-years away from Earth. The discovery paves the way to spot many more such objects, which could help astronomers address important questions on the true nature of dark matter.
Blue Waters enables massive flu simulations
UCSD researchers model the 160-million-atom viral coat using the Blue Waters supercomputer.
Blue Waters helps solve Yellowstone supervolcano mystery
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign geology assistant professor Lijun Liu investigated the formation of Yellowstone volcanism using the Blue Waters supercomputer.
Blue Waters user finds astronomical missing link
Blue Waters researcher Philipp Mösta used 130,000 cores to simulate 10 milliseconds of a massive star collapse's magnetic field. His research is featured in journal Nature.
Physicists Warren Mori and team members Weiming An and Frank Tsung use Blue Waters to simulate plasma acceleration. Their research has led to two recent publications in Nature.
Blue Waters helps Illinois researchers construct atomic model of an immature retrovirus
Researchers from the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group have constructed an atomic model of the immature retrovirus RSV in order to understand and block the virus.
Simulations on Blue Waters suggest there are fewer faint galaxies than expected
"We simulate thousands of galaxies at a time, including their interactions through gravity and radiation, and that poses a tremendous computational challenge,” said principal investigator Brian O’Shea.
Monte Carlo medley
Monte Carlo methods are a common approach to large computational problems. Lucas Wagner and Robert Sugar both use this method to study different aspects of physics on Blue Waters.
Blue Waters enables realistic 3D simulations of colliding black holes
U of I physics professor Stuart Shapiro presented movies of the black hole simulations at a meeting of the American Physical Society. His team described elements of the study last November in Physical Review D.
Massive Blue Waters simulation improves understanding of early galaxy formation
The largest high-redshift cosmological simulation of galaxy formation ever has been recently completed on Blue Waters.
Enzymes and ribozymes & electron and proton transfer
Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, a Blue Waters Professor and professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, gives a colloquium talk on how she uses Blue Waters to conduct hybrid quantum/classical simulations of chemical and biological processes. (VIDEO)
Brian O'Shea describes why Blue Waters is essential
In an NCSA Colloquium, astrophysicist Brian O'Shea explains why the power of Blue Waters is essential for studying the formation of the first galaxies. (VIDEO)
Donald Wuebbles: High-resolution climate simulations
This project Blue Waters and cutting-edge modeling software (the Community Earth System Model)—to advance the study of climate and climate change, while also contributing to international and national assessments of the potential impacts of climate change over this century. (PDF)
Paul Woodward: Simulation of turbulent stellar hydrodynamics
The composition of materials in galaxies that make planets like our own and life possible cannot be understood without the ability to simulate the processes leading to heavy element nucleosynthesis. By studying these brief but important stages of stellar evolution, we hope to improve our understanding of the chemical evolution of galaxies that creates conditions that allow life to develop. (PDF)
Klaus Schulten: The computational microscope
The project may help scientists better understand the role the HIV capsid plays in infecting the host cells and could lead to new HIV therapies. The team's chromatophore research involves deciphering the inner workings of this model photosynthetic system and can guide the development of bio-hybrid green energy devices. (PDF)
Patrick Reed: Design and management of satellite assets to advance space-based Earth science
This research is critical for the scientific and space agency communities to overcome current computational barriers to transform the optimization of future satellite constellation architectures for delivering high-fidelity data for a broad array of applications. A broad array of scientists and stakeholders will draw upon the project’s scientific findings and generated data for further studies and to improve decision making related to flooding, droughts, and food and energy security. (PDF)
Gerhard Klimeck: Accelerating nanoscale transistor innovation with NEMO5
The global semiconductor market is over $300 billion, more than one-third of which is in the United States. Improvements in semiconductors will continue beyond the limits of Moore's Law only through detailed and optimized device design and better integration, which is NEMO's objective. (PDF)
Homayoun Karimabadi: Enabling breakthrough kinetic simulations of the magnetosphere
Massive electromagnetic storms on the Sun can reach Earth, wreaking havoc on technological systems like GPS, satellite communications, and even the power grid. Our kinetic model will help us better understand and forecast space weather to help protect these techological systems. (PDF)
Thomas Jordan: Solving prediction problems in earthquake system science
The CyberShake mode is poised to improve earthquake hazard communication to the public, building codes in earthquake-prone areas, and studies of how ground composition and fault characteristics affect shaking. While preparing to run on Blue Waters the team worked with Blue Waters staff to establish an efficient workflow that will translate well to studies in other fields. (PDF)
Tiziana Di Matteo: Simulating the first galaxies and quasars
The team's simulation of the early universe using Blue Waters blazes a trail for future simulations and handling and analyzing the resulting large-scale datasets. It also helps us understand the formation of the first quasars and galaxies and their role in the early universe, which will be important for understanding observations from new telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope and several huge ground-based telescopes. (PDF)
Blue Waters and Stampede help solve puzzle-like bond for biofuels
The Illinois team led by Klaus Schulten models the strong bond between proteins cohesin and dockerin.
From massive supercomputers come the tiniest transistors
Purdue researchers use Blue Waters to design the building blocks of future nano-computing technologies
Global rainfall satellites require massive overhaul
A new Cornell study warns that the existing system of space-based rainfall observation satellites requires a serious overhaul. Weak spots in flood prediction , particularly in many developing countries, and old rainfall satellites expose many parts of the world to increased risk of disaster.
Blue Waters aids plasma research
The UCLA Plasma Simulation Group’s simulation of a high-efficiency plasma wakefield accelerator was recently featured on the cover of the journal Nature.
Mayo Clinic researchers use the Blue Waters supercomputer to understand gene expression in the brain.
2014 Blue Waters Annual Report
The 2014 Blue Waters Annual Report details the research breakthroughs enabled by the system in its first year of operations.
Do the wave
The SCEC PressOn project is leading the charge in more physically realistic, wave-based earthquake simulations.
Researchers at the University of Illinois take on a challenging fluid mechanics problem to model blood flow in the cardiovascular system to improve clinical diagnostic tools.
"Blue Waters was essential" for Illinois researchers to simulate DNA moving through a graphene nanopore.
A boost for rocket science competitors
Illinois engineering students are using the Blue Waters supercomputer as they compete in the Global Trajectory Optimization Competition,which challenges aerospace engineers and mathematicians to solve a “nearly impossible” problem in interplanetary trajectory design.
Breakthrough tornado simulation
Thanks to access to Blue Waters, scientists from Central Michigan University have created the first simulation of a long-track EF5 tornado
XSEDE and Blue Waters go supernova
A Caltech research team performs fully 3D model simulations of supernova explosions thanks to both XSEDE-allocated Stampede and Blue Waters.
Alabama team studies solar winds
Using Blue Waters, Nikolai Pogorelov and his collaborators discovered why the Voyager 1 spacecraft penetrated interstellar space years earlier than predicted.
Fixing and flexing biomolecular force fields
A University of Utah research group led by Thom Cheatham is using the massive scale of Blue Waters to rapidly and rigorously evaluate the force fields used in molecular dynamics simulations.
Voth team develops new MD code
With Blue Waters supplemental funding, the team developed a new coarse-grained molecular dynamics code that's designed to tackle really big, complex biomolecular processes, including HIV replication and the assembly of the HIV capsid.
Blue Waters enables the simulation of a key supernova phase at unprecedented resolution
With the extreme scale of the Blue Waters supercomputer, the UC Santa Cruz team led by Stan Woosley was able to complete a 3D simulation of a turbulent flame in a supernova at unprecedented resolution—135 m/zone, about eight times greater than typical simulations. These results were published in The Astrophysical Journal in February 2014.
Forecasting space weather with Blue Waters
“Now that we have been able to go beyond fluid models, which ignore details on small scales, we have uncovered new and unexpected effects and are finding ample evidence that physical processes occurring on small scales have global consequences,” explains Homa Karimabadi of the University of California, San Diego.
Physicists publish precise calculation of meson decay
With help from Blue Waters and other HPC systems, a team of high-energy physicists performs the most precise calculation to date of the decay of K and pi mesons.
Wit, grit and a supercomputer yield chemical structure of HIV capsid
Researchers report in the journal Nature that they have determined the precise chemical structure of the HIV capsid, a protein shell that protects the virus’s genetic material. The simulations that added the missing pieces to the puzzle were conducted during testing of Blue Waters.
Blue Waters team improves seismology code
The Blue Waters team helped researchers from the University of Wyoming dramatically improve performance of their seismology code by reducing the I/O bottleneck.
Blue Waters enables a U.S./China collaboration to reveal structure of a virus that causes a fatal disease in rabbits.
Understanding space weather with Blue Waters
Homayoun Karimabadi from the University of California-San Diego explains how his team is using the Blue Waters Early Science System to investigate magnetic reconnection, which triggers storms on the sun and allows the sun's radiation to enter Earth's magnetosphere.
Simulating supernovae with Blue Waters
Chris Malone and Andy Nonaka explains how their UC Santa Cruz/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team is using the Blue Waters Early Science System to study how carbon and oxygen burn to iron during the initial stages of thermonuclear runaway as a white dwarf goes supernova.
Making science and engineering history
Researchers achieved impressive results during a tantalizing test run of the Blue Waters sustained petascale supercomputer earlier this year. According to biophysicist Klaus Schulten, "We are sure Blue Waters will make science and engineering history."
4 applications sustain 1 PF on Blue Waters
Four large-scale science applications (VPIC, PPM, QMCPACK and SPECFEM3DGLOBE) have run above 1 PF/s of sustained performance, and the Weather Research & Forecasting (WRF) run on Blue Waters is the largest WRF simulation ever documented