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  • Supercomputing Center to Focus on Nanotechnology
May 2006
TROY, N.Y., May 11, 2006 — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in collaboration with IBM and New York state, yesterday announced a $100 million partnership to create what it said will be the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputing center, and a top 10 supercomputing center of any kind in the world.

The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), based on the Rensselaer campus and at its Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy, is designed to help continue the advances being made in shrinking electronic device dimensions and extend them to other industries that could benefit from nanotechnology, according to the partners.

Cadence Design Systems, a electronic design automation software maker, and AMD, a developer of advanced microprocessor technology and products, will collaborate with Rensselaer and IBM at the Supercomputing Center in advanced simulation and modeling of nanoelectronic devices and circuitry. This activity complements the ongoing joint R&D activity between IBM and AMD in East Fishkill and Albany, N.Y., developing advanced high-performance silicon-on-insulator (SOI) semiconductor devices and manufacturing processes, the partners said. The CCNI will focus on reducing the time and costs associated with designing and manufacturing nanoscale materials, devices and systems.

The ability to design and manufacture smaller, cheaper, and faster semiconductor devices is crucial to sustaining Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles roughly every 18 months. Chip designers and manufacturers have sustained Moore’s prediction by continually shrinking the size of devices on semiconductor chips. Today, circuit components measure about 65 nm in width, or 65 billionths of a meter. According to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, this needs to shrink to 45 nm by 2009, 35 nm by 2012 and 22 nm by 2015.

“The CCNI will bring together university and industry researchers under one roof to conduct a broad range of computational simulations, from the interactions between atoms and molecules up to the behavior of the complete device. This will help enable the semiconductor industry to bridge the gaps between fundamental device science, design and manufacturing at the nanoscale,” said Omkaram Nalamasu, vice president for research at Rensselaer. The center will be an important resource for companies of any size — from start-ups to established firms — to perform research that would be impossible without both the computing power and the expert researchers at CCNI, he said.

The CCNI system will be made up of massively parallel Blue Gene supercomputers, POWER-based Linux clusters, and AMD Opteron processor-based clusters, providing more than 70 teraflops of computing power. This will put CCNI among the top 10 supercomputing centers of any kind, and make it the most powerful university-based center in the world, Rensselaer said.

The computing power also will benefit a wide array of faculty and student research projects at Rensselaer, such as in biocomputation, which involves the modeling and simulation of tissue, cell and genetic behavior. These computing tools will offer powerful new methods to understand the complex behavior of living organisms.

The center is expected to be operational by the end of the year. For more information, visit:

The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
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