Virginia Tech supercomputer lead designer named one of 100 Top Young Innovators

09/21/04

Blacksburg, Va. Virginia Tech, the state's leading research university, announced today that Srinidhi Varadarajan, director of its Terascale Computing Facility, has been named to the 2004 list of the world's 100 Top Young Innovators by Technology Review, MIT's Magazine of Innovation.

The TR100, chosen by the editors of Technology Review and an elite panel of judges, consists of 100 individuals under age 35 whose innovative work in technology has a profound effect on today's world. This year's nominees are recognized for their contributions in transforming the nature of technology and business in industries such as biotechnology and medicine, computing, and nanotechnology.

Varadarajan was the lead designer of Virginia Tech's supercomputer, System X, ranked in November 2003 as the fastest supercomputer at any university in the world. Varadarajan conceived the idea to use off-the-shelf commercial products to design a supercomputer and built his system in a little less than three months. He targeted price/performance because he did not have the hundreds of millions of dollars available to him that it took to build the world's current top two supercomputers.

The No. 1 supercomputer, Japan's Earth Simulator, was estimated to cost between $250 and $350 million, and the Department of Energy's ASCI-Q, a dedicated weapons facility in the No. 2 slot, had an estimated construction cost of $215 million. When System X was rated No. 3, Varadarajan had accomplished his goal for a mere $5.2 million, an unbelievable price in the field of high-performance supercomputing.

This low cost represents a paradigm shift in supercomputing; it means that based on Varadarajan's work, other major research universities and enterprises can build their own supercomputer.

In June, Virginia Tech and Varadarajan received this year's Computerworld Honors 21st Century Achievement Award in Science.

The 2004 TR100's panel of judges includes senior executives from the following organizations: Boston University, Caltech, Cambridge University, CombinatoRx, Concept2Company, Cornell University, General Electric, Geekcorps, Georgia Tech, Harvard Medical School, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, MIT, Northwestern University, PureTech Ventures, Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, TIAX, Wharton, Xerox, and YankeeTek Ventures.

"In the five years since we began naming our annual selection of the world's top innovators under age 35, inclusion among the TR100 has become one of the most prestigious awards for young innovators around the world," said David Rotman, executive editor of Technology Review. "This year's winners are all pioneering fascinating innovations in the fields of biomedicine, computing and nanotechnology, and were chosen after a rigorous selection and judging process. The result is an elite group whose visions and inventions will shape the future of technology."

Varadarajan will be honored Sept. 29 and 30 at Technology Review's Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT. The event features keynotes, panels, and breakout discussions on the transformative technological innovations that have the potential to fuel new economic growth and dramatically change the future. Keynote speakers include Vinod Khosla, founding CEO of Sun Microsystems and General Partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers; Ray Kurzweil, renowned inventor, author and founder of Kurzweil Technologies; and Rick Wagoner, chairman of General Motors. More information on ETC2004 can be found at www.tretc.com.

About Technology Review Inc.

Technology Review Inc., a MIT enterprise, delivers essential information about emerging technologies and their impact on business leaders. Since 1998, paid circulation for the company's magazine, Technology Review, has more than tripled, climbing from 92,000 to 315,000. Combined with its signature events, newsletters, and online businesses, Technology Review reaches over 2 million business leaders throughout the world each month.

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