Monday, November 30, 2009

California exploring ways to achieve green energy

Most people probably have not thought much about what it takes to get the power to your house when the lights are turned on, but the nation's electrical grid is a complex network of switches and cables that span the nation. As California turns up the power on green energy, getting that power to consumers is presenting some unique problems. The electric grid is a network of high-voltage cables that span the nation. It is 40-years-old and very fragile in places. A 2005 study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that power interruptions and blackouts cost the economy $80 billion every year. More>

Ordinary buildings to respond to electricity demands

“There’s a lot of potential to solve some of the most pressing challenges facing not just our power system, but our entire economy right now, so I wanted to come here because the Lab is doing the most cutting-edge work in demand response,” said Presidential Management Fellow Pamela Sporborg. In utility parlance, wind energy is known as a “variable load.” That’s because wind is naturally unpredictable and inconstant. What’s worse, it is more likely to blow at night, when demand for electricity is at its lowest. Because the electric grid requires that supply and demand must always be in balance, making efficient use of wind energy turns out to be no trivial matter. More>

Linking Human Diseases to Animal Models Using Ontology-Based Phenotype Annotation

In PLoS Biology this week, scientists led by Nicole Washington at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Melissa Haendel at the University of Oregon tested the hypothesis that "ontological annotation of disease phenotypes will facilitate the discovery of new genotype-phenotype relationships within and across species." Using a novel Entity-Quality methodology, they compared gene-linked disease phenotypes among model organisms, including zebrafish, and found that they could "identify, through the similarity of the recorded phenotypes, other alleles of the same gene, other members of a signaling pathway, and orthologous genes and pathway members across species" that could be involved in the disease. More>

Ancient Protein May be Key to Unlocking Potential of Algae Biofuels

In a discovery that should help sustainable algae biofuels make the leap from an exotic curiosity to a mainstream fuel, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have identified an ancient protein that helps keep green algae from imbibing too much sunlight during photosynthesis.

Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday — a Carbon Emissions Comparison

The concept of Cyber Monday — when online retailers offer sweet deals to e-shoppers the first Monday after Black Friday — might have been dreamed up a few years ago as a marketing concoction, but I can’t help but think about its emergence, and the trend toward more online shopping, as a solid indicator of how broadband can help reduce carbon emissions. In general the big carbon difference between retail spending and online spending seems to be the carbon emissions from driving to the outlet to buy the goods. According to research from Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University published in August, purchasing a CD online and having it shipped to you (both by air and road) produces fewer carbon emissions than driving to an outlet and buying that same CD. More>

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meow! IBM cat brain simulation dissed as 'hoax' by rival scientist

IBM's claim that it has designed the first brain simulation to exceed the scale of a cat's cortex is being dismissed as "a hoax and a PR stunt" by a rival scientist. "IBM stands by the scientific integrity of the announcement on cognitive computing led by IBM in collaboration with Stanford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, Columbia University Medical Center, University of California-Merced and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory," the IBM statement reads. More>

Seeking a Smarter Grid: Integrating Wind Energy by Linking Buildings to the Grid

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has launched a new project to find more effective ways to economically integrate variable loads from to the electrical grid. The project, led by Presidential Management Fellow Pamela Sporborg, will examine how demand response, an area in which Berkeley Lab has been a pioneer, might help smooth out the variable loads. More>

DOE Awards $104M for Efficiency-Related Facilities at National Labs

On November 18, DOE announced its selection of eight energy efficiency test facilities to be built at seven of its national labs with the help of $104.7 million in ARRA funds. The facilities will support the development and improvement of energy efficiency technologies of strategic national interest. Specifically, the funding will go toward reducing production costs of carbon fiber manufacturing by reducing vehicle weight; improving efficiency and lowering costs for car batteries; and exploring advanced technologies for net-zero-energy buildings. The effort will leverage the combined intellectual and technical resources of DOE's national labs. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California will build and operate the National User Facility for Net-Zero Energy Buildings Research, which will allow for integrated testing of building technologies. More>

Peptide-mineral interaction images created

U.S. scientists say they have created images with the resolution of a single molecule of the interaction between peptides and a mineral surface. The scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California-Davis and the University of Alabama said they were able to create images of individual atomic layers of a mineral interacting with peptides -- protein fragments -- by improving the performance of an atomic force microscope. More>

Energy Push Spurs Shift in U.S. Science

The Obama administration's push to solve the nation's energy problems, a massive federal program that rivals the Manhattan Project, is spurring a once-in-a-generation shift in U.S. science. The government's multibillion-dollar push into energy research is reinvigorating 17 giant U.S.-funded research facilities, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory here to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. After many years of flat budgets, these labs are ramping up to develop new electricity sources, trying to build more-efficient cars and addressing climate change. More>

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feds Find Link Between Chinese Drywall and Corrosion in Homes

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says results from a major indoor air study of 51 homes combined with initial reports from two studies of corrosion in homes with Chinese drywall shows a strong association between homes with the problem drywall and the levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes. Investigations currently underway by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, SNL and NIST and others will continue toward identifying additional information on any possible long-term health and safety issues. More>

Scientists Watch as Peptides Control Crystal Growth With 'Switches, Throttles and Brakes'

By producing some of the highest resolution images of peptides attaching to mineral surfaces, scientists have a deeper understanding how biomolecules manipulate the growth crystals. This research may lead to a new treatment for kidney stones using biomolecules. The team, made up of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley, the University of California, Davis and the University of Alabama, for the first time produced single-molecule resolution images of this peptide-mineral interaction. More>

Report: Solar Electricity Cost Likely to Fall 50% in 2009

The cost of solar electricity is likely to drop by 50 percent in 2009 from the previous year due largely to a big fall in solar panel prices, said New Energy Finance Monday. The 50 percent drop refers to what's commonly called the "leveilized cost of electricity," or the cost of producing the power over the lifetime of a solar power plant (from building to operating power plants). Utilities and banks use these metrics to determine their investments and operational costs for these generation facilities over time. A recent report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the prices paid for installing each solar energy system in the U.S. showed the disparity between system prices for different states (see Solar Declines in Price by More Than 30%, Don't Credit the Panel). The lab relied primarily on data about small solar energy systems installed at homes or businesses. More>

Two Men Sentenced in Crash That Killed Students

More than four years after three UC Berkeley graduate students were killed in a high-speed crash, the two Oakland men responsible were sentenced Friday. Paul Alivisatos, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who worked closely with Boussert and Adessor as an adviser in the College of Chemistry, said the students' deaths were a loss because no one would know the contributions the two students could have made. "These were two really capable young scientists," Alivisatos said. "They were doing great Ph.D. work. Nobody really knows what they would have done for the world." More>

Accelerator step towards fusion

A collaboration among DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) called the Heavy Ion Fusion Science Virtual National Laboratory, headed by Grant Logan of Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator and Fusion Research Division (AFRD), is building an accelerator that will soon allow scientists access to warm dense matter in the laboratory. More>

SC09 Storage Challenge Award

A research team from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at University of California, San Diego, and the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory won the Storage Challenge competition at SC09, the international conference on high-performance computing, networking, storage, and analysis, which was held last week in Portland, Oregon. The research team based its Storage Challenge submission for the annual conference on the architecture of SDSC's recently announced Dash high-performance compute system, a super-sized version of flash memory-based devices such as laptops, digital cameras and thumb drives that also employs vSMP Foundation software from ScaleMP, Inc. to provide virtual symmetric multiprocessing capabilities. More>

Atomic-Level Snapshot Catches Protein Motor in Action

The atomic-level action of a remarkable class of ring-shaped protein motors has been uncovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) using a state-of-the-art protein crystallography beamline at the Advanced Light Source (ALS). These protein motors play pivotal roles in gene expression and replication, and are vital to the survival of all biological cells, as well as infectious agents, such as the human papillomavirus, which has been linked to cervical cancer. More>

IBM cat brain simulation dismissed as 'hoax' by rival scientist

IBM's claim that it has designed the first brain simulation to exceed the scale of a cat's cortex is being dismissed as "a hoax and a PR stunt" by a rival scientist. IBM researcher Dharmendra Modha last week hailed his company's new simulations as a "tremendous historic milestone" that will ultimately point the way to human-scale brain simulations. IBM voiced support for Modha’s work in a statement e-mailed to Network World. "IBM stands by the scientific integrity of the announcement on cognitive computing led by IBM in collaboration with Stanford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, Columbia University Medical Center, University of California-Merced and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory," the IBM statement reads. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the Register.

Splitting Time from Space—New Quantum Theory Topples Einstein's Spacetime

Was Newton right and Einstein wrong? It seems that unzipping the fabric of spacetime and harking back to 19th-century notions of time could lead to a theory of quantum gravity. Physicists have struggled to marry quantum mechanics with gravity for decades. In contrast, the other forces of nature have obediently fallen into line. For instance, the electromagnetic force can be described quantum-mechanically by the motion of photons. Try and work out the gravitational force between two objects in terms of a quantum graviton, however, and you quickly run into trouble: the answer to every calculation is infinity. But now Petr Horva, a Berkeley Lab physicist, thinks he understands the problem. It's all, he says, a matter of time. More>

Monday, November 23, 2009

People In The News

The University of California's Board of Regents this week named Paul Alivisatos as director of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is managed by the university. He had been serving as interim director since January 2009. Alivisatos is a leader of Berkeley Lab's Helios solar research initiative. He also is a scientific founder of Quantum Dot Corp. and Nanosys, and a board member of Solexant. More>

Atomic-level Snapshot Catches Protein Motor in Action

The atomic-level action of a remarkable class of ring-shaped protein motors has been uncovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory using a state-of-the-art protein crystallography beamline at the Advanced Light Source (ALS). These protein motors play pivotal roles in gene expression and replication, and are vital to the survival of all biological cells, as well as infectious agents, such as the human papillomavirus, which has been linked to cervical cancer. More>

SDSC, UC San Diego, LBNL team wins SC09 'Storage Challenge' Award

A research team from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has won the Storage Challenge competition at SC09, the leading international conference on high-performance computing, networking, storage and analysis being held in this week in Portland, Oregon. The hypothesis of the team's Challenge, called "Data Intensive Science: Solving Scientific Unknowns by Solving Storage Problems", was that solid state drives (SSDs) based on NAND (Not AND) flash technology are "ready for prime time" in that that they are reliable and cheap enough to improve input/output density (I/O rate) by more than 10 times, or greater than one order of magnitude. More>

IMLS Funds Research on 3D Scanner Technology to Save Endangered Recordings

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will advance technology that can recover and digitally re-master rare early sound recordings made on wax cylinders. The new three-year research project will address large scale digitization of collections through the design and evaluation of a software control and analysis framework. More>

China-U.S. Science Agreement Signals Dawn of a New Era

The $150 million Clean Energy Research Center that the two superpowers agreed to fund this week represents no less than a revolution in the way the two countries think about joint research. American scientists have shared their scientific and technological expertise with China for decades, but until now Chinese scientists have contributed only in-kind donations, mostly salaries, to joint energy studies. Now they'll be equal financial partners in the venture. "That's intriguing," said NREL's David Kline. "Extremely significant" was how Mark Levine of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California put it. DOE's David Sandalow said the new partnership "reflects the strong Chinese interest in energy." More>

2 sentenced in crash that killed 3 UC students

Two Oakland men have each been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for their roles in a street race and fiery chain-reaction collision on Interstate 80 that killed three UC Berkeley doctoral students in 2005, authorities said Sunday. An investigation stalled until researchers at UC Berkeley's Traffic Safety Center told California Highway Patrol investigators that magnetic sensors on I-80 used for studying traffic density showed that the suspects' cars had been traveling at more than 100 mph, said CHP Officer Sam Morgan. Paul Alivisatos, a UC Berkeley chemistry professor who served as the adviser for Boussert and Adesso, said Sunday that he is grateful that another campus department was able to provide key evidence in the case. More>

DOE earmarks $104.7M for national laboratory facilities

While visiting Sandia National Laboratories, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced $104.7 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for eight new projects to establish critical research and testing facilities at seven Department of Energy National Laboratories, including Berkeley Lab, which will receive $15.9 million to build and operate a National User Facility for Net-Zero Energy Buildings Research that will contain a series of coordinated integration test beds that address key technical challenges for net-zero energy buildings. More>

Internet Intercedes to Make Solar Cheaper

While researchers have struggled for half a century to push down the cost of solar photovoltaic modules, an innovative web service is creating communities of customers who pay less for solar panels through collective bargaining with installers. But all the other stuff that goes into putting that module at your house costs money, too. Solar people call this the “balance-of-system” cost and that’s where One Block Off the Grid is making an impact. By creating volume for solar installers and doing some of the sales and marketing work, they can get those installers to offer lower prices to their customers. The net result is cheaper solar power, even if the technology doesn’t shift at all. “These costs do vary so it’s hard to say how real the cost savings might be, but their story is credible,” said Chris Marnay, who researches distributed energy systems at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in an email to Wired.com. More>

Supercomputing for the Masses

With $32 million from the Energy Department, Argonne has set to work on Magellan, a project (in collaboration with Berkeley Lab) to explore the creation of a cloud-computing infrastructure that scientists around the globe can use. Mr. Beckman argued that such a system would reduce the need for smaller universities and labs to spend money on their own computing infrastructure. Another benefit is that researchers would not need to spend days downloading huge data sets so that they could perform analysis on their own computers. Instead, they could send requests to Magellan and just receive the answers. More>

Friday, November 20, 2009

Japan's Scientists Fight Proposed Budget Cuts

Nothing rouses a research community like a threat to its funding, as could be seen this week here in Japan after a task force recommended deep cuts ... in the Ministry of Education's budget for fiscal year 2010. Grass-roots efforts have sprung up to defend individual projects, while community leaders are asserting the importance of research to Japan's future. HITOSHI MURAYAMA, a Berkeley Lab physicist, started an international e-mail campaign for the World Premier International Research Center Initiative, facing a possible 50% funding cut, that supports the Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo, wh!
ich he directs. He says fellow Lab physicist George Smoot has promised to personally write to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. More>

Protein motor springs to action

Using a state-of-the-art protein crystallography beamline at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source, researchers have captured a critical action shapshot of an enzyme that is vital to the survival of all biological cells. The atomic-level action of a remarkable class of ring-shaped protein motors has been uncovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) using a state-of-the-art protein crystallography beamline at the Advanced Light Source (ALS). These protein motors play pivotal roles in gene expression and replication, and are vital to the survival of all biological cells, as well as infectious agents, such as the human papillomavirus, which has been linked to cervical cancer. More>

Benchmarking Tool Aims to Help Semiconductor Facilities Improve Energy Efficiency

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in cooperation with the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI), are releasing for beta testing a computer-based tool to help the world's semiconductor manufacturing facilities ("fabs") evaluate and improve their energy efficiency. More>

Protein Motor Caught in Action

Scientists at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have recently managed to decipher the structure and modus operandi of a remarkable class of ring-shaped protein motors. The team used the state-of-the-art protein crystallography beamline at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), in order to gain deeper insight into the way this small structure functioned, which, in turn, would allow them to understand how certain proteins were formed. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Nanowerk.

Chemist named director of Lawrence Berkeley lab

Paul Alivisatos, a chemist whose pioneering research seeks promising new low-cost sources of solar energy, was named the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Thursday. The UC regents, meeting in Los Angeles, confirmed the appointment recommended by UC President Mark Yudof after a special search committee had screened 140 candidates. More>

Stories on this topic also appeared in the Contra Costa Times, San Francisco Business Times, and Nanowerk.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Berkeley Lab lends expertise to India to promote energy efficiency

Experts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US are lending their expertise to India to promote energy efficiency. Were not there preaching they should emulate the United States and our experience, said Ashok Gadgil, acting director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division. In fact, just the opposite: were suggesting they should leapfrog our experience. Indias energy consumption is significantly lower than that of the U.S. and Europe, so they have an opportunity now to grow in a sustainable way, he added. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Laboratory Equipment.

IBM researchers announce “Blue Matter” - software platform for neuroscience modeling

At the SC09 supercomputing conference in Portland, Orelando, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at IBM Wednesday announced the so-called “Blue Matter” – a landmark software platform for neuroscience modeling. Presenting their ‘cognitive computing’-related paper at the conference, the researchers, from five universities and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, described their extraordinarily analogous cortical simulator, C2, which they claim can simulate a brain with nearly 4.5 percent the cerebral cortex capacity of a human brain. More>

A story on this also appeared in Alibaba News Channel.

California Takes Aim Power-Hungry TVs: What's Next?

Televisions are notorious for draining huge amounts of energy, which is why California is cracking down with energy efficiency regulations. But your HDTV isn't the only home tech product that's slurping up power. Here are 5 other gadgets that you should turn off when not in use:

Your Cable's Set-Top Box

The categories mentioned above are obvious energy drains, but the one vampire you probably didn't suspect is your cable box. Figures supplied to Electronic House by Bruce Nordman of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show that cable boxes come directly behind TVs, desktops and monitors in annual consumer electronics energy use. More>

DOE to fund $104.7m for clean energy and efficiency projects

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman says DOE funding will target lowering carbon fiber production costs; help in reducing weight of vehicles; improve efficiency and lower costs for car batteries, and to develop so-called “net-zero” energy building technologies. Net-zero energy buildings are those that those that generate as much energy as they use on an annual basis through high efficiency and on-site renewable energy generation. The seven national laboratories involved are Argonne, in Argonne, Illinois; Idaho, in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Lawrence Berkeley in Berkeley, California; National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, West Virginia; National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado; Oak Ridge, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Sandia in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More>

Thin-Film Solar with High Efficiency

Solar cells made from cheap nanocrystal-based inks have the potential to be as efficient as the conventional inorganic cells currently used in solar panels, but can be printed less expensively. Solexant, a company in San Jose, CA, is currently manufacturing solar cells to test the technology. In order to compete with other thin-film solar companies, Solexant is banking on simpler, cheaper printing processes and materials, as well as lower initial capital costs to build its plants. The company expects to sell modules for $1 per watt, with efficiencies above 10 percent. The company has licensed methods for growing nanocrystals and making them into inks from Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. More>

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The petroleum civil war

Most alarmingly, recent accusations reveal that instead of raising awareness about peak oil, governments have been suppressing the truth about its proximity. On Nov. 9, a day before releasing its annual report, the International Energy Agency was criticized by two whistleblowers for allegedly capitulating to U.S. pressure to downplay decline rates and overplay the chances of finding new reserves. Just weeks ago, David Fridley, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who worked directly under Energy Secretary Steven Chu, further pushed the notion that the U.S. government is choosing to remain silent on oil supply woes, proclaiming that Chu “knows all about peak oil, but he can’t talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just can’t say anything about it.” More>
As beams of protons again begin zipping around the underground ring of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), teams of physicists are already competing to design a successor. Last week, US scientists staked their claim in a daring new venture: the world's first muon collider. The biggest problem with the ILC is its $20-billion price tag, says Robert Cahn, a physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California who works at the LHC. He is blunt about the ILC's chances of being built. "The ILC is dead," he says. More>

FABS21 benchmarking tool will help Ssemiconductor manufacturing facilities improve energy-efficiency

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in cooperation with the International SEMATECH Manufacturing Initiative (ISMI), are releasing for beta testing a computer-based tool to help the world’s semiconductor manufacturing facilities (“fabs”) evaluate and improve their energy efficiency. More>

DOE Announces More Than $104 Million for National Laboratory Facilities

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman today announced $104.7 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for eight new projects to establish critical research and testing facilities at seven DOE National Laboratories. The projects will support the development and improvement of clean energy and efficiency technologies of strategic national interest. Berkeley Lab will receive $15.9 million to build and operate a National User Facility for Net-Zero Energy Buildings Research that will contain a series of coordinated integration test beds that address key technical challenges for net-zero energy buildings. More>

Berkeley Lab lends expertise to India to promote energy efficiency

India may rank only a distant fourth in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, behind China, the United States and Russia, but its rapid economic growth rate coupled with aging and inefficient energy infrastructure suggest dire environmental consequences if "business as usual" continues. That's why experts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been working to expand collaborations with India on energy efficiency. More>

IBM lab builds computerized cat brain

IBM said it has already simulated a cat-sized cerebral cortex — the area of the brain that's key to memory, attention, and consciousness — using a massive Blue Gene supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. This feline-scale cortical simulation, which was made with the help of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, included 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion individual learning synapses. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in the Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News and UPI.

Cleantech Open winner offers stable environment

EcoFactor has been awarded Cleantech Open's national award, which includes $100,000 in seed capital.Out of the 12 national finalists, there were also 2 chosen as runners-up: Micromidas, which developed a process for converting raw sewage into biodegradable plastic products and Alphabet Energy, a team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with a system that produces electricity from waste heat. More>

A story on this topic also appeared in Greentech Media, Earth Times and True/Slant.

Renewable Energy for $1 a Watt? Yes, Says Alphabet Energy

Alphabet Energy, a Lawrence Berkeley National Labs spin-out with a semiconductor that converts heat directly into power, says it can make devices that will produce power at close to $1 a watt.
Traditional waste heat converters cost around $20 a watt and are made out of bismuth telluride. Alphabet won't say what it's semiconductor is made from, but sources say it is silicon nanowires.
The company, one of the finalists for the Cleantech Open, hopes to get a prototype plant running in about 18 months. More>

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Supercomputers get more powerful -- but at a cost

But as these machines -- now measuring speed by the petaflop, or one thousand trillion calculations per second -- reach new computing feats and help achieve major scientific breakthroughs, another issue dogs the industry: Some of these systems require so much electricity that the equivalent could power a small city. At the industry's big conference, called SC09, which started on Sunday in Portland, Ore., there were sessions devoted to the power issue. One paper, to be presented Thursday by Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will describe a radically new approach to high-performance computing design, as electricity demands approach hard limits. His ideas leverage design principles from consumer electronics. More>

Leading Scientific Innovators Select Convey's Hybrid-Core Systems

Convey Computer Corporation, the pioneer of hybrid-core computing, announced today that three of the world's most prominent scientific organizations -- the Stanford Center of Computational Earth and Environmental Science (CEES), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) -- have selected the company's innovative Convey HC-1 computers to power a fresh wave of scientific discovery. More>

Energy-Efficient DataCenter Designs

One of the conventional wisdoms is that DC power is more efficient than AC power because DC distribution goes through fewer conversions. A paper from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that DC distribution systems are about 7% more efficient than "best in class" AC UPSs and 28% more efficient than AC distribution systems typically found in data centers. A task group of the Green Grid, an IT industry consortium that's looking to standardize on energy efficiency metrics, processes, and technologies, takes issue with parts of Lawrence Berkeley's study. The task force argues that well designed DC and AC systems using current technology can actually be within 5% to 7% efficiency of each other. More>