SLAC Today is available online at:

In this issue:
Do-it-yourself Supercomputing
Juneteenth 2009 Call for Volunteers
Colloquium Today: Reconciling the Rapid Growth of Coal and CO2 Emissions in Global Energy Markets

SLAC Today

Monday - March 23, 2009

Do-it-yourself Supercomputing

SLAC computational physicist Tom Devereaux will build his next computing cluster out of graphics cards. (Photo by Lauren Schenkman. Click for larger image.)

SLAC computational theorists are getting a burst of speed from an unlikely source—graphics processing units, the ordinary hardware that draws the images on a computer screen. Tom Devereaux, a computational physicist at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, will be harnessing GPUs together in a new computing cluster that's big on speed, but small in size—and cost.

Scientists usually run simulations on a computer's (or many computers') central processing unit, or CPU. But if CPUs are Swiss army knives, capable of handling a variety of tasks, GPUs are chainsaws, designed to perform a particular type of calculation very, very well.

"You use the same box, and there's a slot where the GPU goes in," Devereaux said. For computations that involve only integers, this simple upgrade would yield a teraflop, or a trillion floating-point operations per second. That's a thousand times faster than the solo CPU. Devereaux doesn't expect such dramatic results; he models unusual electronic behavior in solids, which means handling decimal quantities. Still, he said, "I can get a factor of five better computing power" using the GPUs.  Read more...

(Photo - Juneteenth 2006)
Juneteenth 2006. (Photo by Diana Rogers. Click for larger image.)

Juneteenth 2009 Call for Volunteers

SLAC's 20th Juneteenth Celebration will take place on June 19, 2009. Juneteenth celebrates the end to slavery in the U.S., and SLAC has traditionally celebrated with good food and entertainment.

The Juneteenth Committee is looking for volunteers to help organize and run the event. If you are interested, please contact a member of the committee. See the full Juneteenth announcement for contact information and more about the day.

Colloquium Today: Reconciling the Rapid Growth of Coal and CO2 Emissions in Global Energy Markets

Today at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium, Stanford Program on Energy and Sustainable Development research associate Richard Morse will discuss the use of coal today and into the future, and the economic and technological issues that affect its use and impacts.

Coal is both the world's fastest growing fossil fuel and a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. While in the West coal use is under pressure, much of the developing world is predicating economic growth on cheap, reliable electricity from coal. As a result, the next few decades are likely to witness a massive build-out of coal capacity. Morse will explore where coal markets are growing, examine what economic and political variables have the greatest impact on coal use and the global coal trade, and discuss possible leverage points for CO2 mitigation. One mitigation option is a technology called carbon capture and storage, or CCS. Should we place big bets on this expensive and largely unproven option? Morse will discuss whether the current state of CCS deployment for coal-fired power falls short of mitigation levels required by many widely publicized targets and proceed to analyze the potential for commercial deployment of CCS technology at scale.

Stanford's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development draws on the fields of political science, law and economics to investigate how the production and consumption of energy affect sustainable development and human welfare. Morse's work focuses on global and domestic coal markets. His other research interests include carbon markets, renewable energy markets, and financial markets for energy commodities. He has worked in commodities markets for oil, natural gas and renewable energy. The event is free and open to all.

Events (see all | submit)

Access (see all)

  • No Access Notices Today

(see all | submit)

 Lab Announcements

Community Bulletin Board

Training (see all | register)

News (submit)

dividing line
(Office of Science/U.S. DOE Logo)

View online at