Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI)
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IBM Blue Gene Supercomputer
IBM Blue Gene Supercomputer
Fact Sheet

The nanoelectronics industry is reaching physical limits and the technical and cost constraints are limiting growth.

At the same time advances in bio- and nano-technology, as well as experimental and simulation science are expanding our understanding of processes from the atomic scale. However, engineering practice has lagged behind and does not offer the ability to take advantage of this new understanding.

To address these needs Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, International Business Machines (IBM), and New York state have joined together to establish a unique research and computational center to provide leadership in nanotechnology modeling and simulation.

This center focuses on reducing time and costs associated with design to manufacturing and producing new integrated predictive design tools for nano-scale devices. This center complements other regional strengths in physical device research and development in nanoelectronics. In addition to its focus on nanotechnology, the center supports research in fields where computational power can expand understanding.

The Need

The ability to design and manufacture new semiconductor technology in a timely and cost effective manner is central to sustaining the 30% yearly productivity enhancements associated with Moore’s law. A critical enabler of this growth is the use of simulation to both extend the current Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) paradigm to its ultimate limit, and to better understand, exploit, and integrate new nanoscale materials and systems. The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI) will be instrumental in expanding the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors beyond the physical limits of CMOS technology.

Nanotechnology is making it possible to design materials and devices with nanoscale building blocks. New processes, ranging from self-assembly to directed molecular evolution, are changing synthesis and manufacturing. In the biological sciences, progress increasingly relies on understanding the interactions of molecular and cellular processes within the biological system. The ability to translate these fundamental advances in understanding into the engineering of new products and industries requires a transformation in the methodologies of modeling, simulation, and design through the application of multiscale systems engineering.

CCNI Approach for Nanoelectronics

CCNI’s integrated approach connecting virtual and physical nanofabrication is essential as manufacturing complexity goes up, exotic materials are introduced, and billions of transistors are integrated in a single chip. The purpose of an integrated approach is to ensure that semiconductor technology is scalable in a cost effective manner for several more generations.

Partner Program

The CCNI cultivates a broad partnership of university, industry, and government organizations focused on the development and application of new generations of simulation technologies on world-class super computers. The founding partners of CCNI are: Renssleaer Polytechnic Institute, a leading research and educational institution, IBM, a leading super computer and nanoelectronics technology company, and New York state with a history of strategic, long-term investments in nanotechnology research, development, and manufacturing. The CCNI Partners Program has multiple levels designed to engage a broad range of industry, from startups to major corporations, government laboratories, and universities interested in the development and application of computational nanotechnologies.

Nanotechnology focused industries joining the program include: semiconductor manufacturers, systems integrators, equipment makers, software providers, and materials manufacturers. The benefits of membership includes various levels of access to the supercomputing environment, collaboration with research leaders in the computational nanotechnology field, and the ability to help identify research areas for the center. The CCNI, coupled with the excellence in the NY state Capital Region in semiconductor fabrication technology provides industry a total solution, from simulations to physical device fabrication.

Technical Scope

The technical program encompasses several key areas of research critical to the success and growth of the nanotechnology, semiconductor, and information technology industries. Example activities include:

  • First-principle investigation of the fundamental processes and device concepts underlying the extension of CMOS technology to its ultimate physical limit.
  • Generation of process/device models and computational systems that will lead to a full virtualfab simulation of nanoelectronics devices and other nano-based systems.
  • Computational exploration of new, non-CMOS nanotechnologies which can extend the semiconductor performance/productivity curve beyond the limits of CMOS.
  • Definition of a new engineering design paradigm based on multiscale modeling and simulation.

Projects outside the nanotechnology area include adaptive computational fluid dynamics and conformational dynamics.

Computational System

The CCNI operates heterogeneous supercomputing systems consisting of massively-parallel Blue Gene supercomputers, Power-based Linux systems, and AMD Opteron processor-based clusters. This diverse set of systems enables large-scale leading-edge computational research in both the scientific and technical arenas. This initial hardware and software configuration provides upwards of 70 TeraFLOPS of computational power with associated high-speed networking and storage.

For more information, contact:

John E. Kolb, P.E.
Vice President for Information Services and Technology and Chief Information Officer
(518) 276-2122,

Mark Shephard, Ph.D.
Director, Scientific Computing Research Center
(518) 276-6795,

Wolf W. von Maltzahn, Ph.D.
Acting Vice President for Research
(518) 276-4825

Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI)

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Copyright ©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “IBM Blue Gene” images courtesy IBM Research.