New supercomputer – Closing computer gap with military

The National Science Foundation will give $45 million to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to buy the world’s fastest nonmilitary supercomputer, the New York Times reported August 4.

The award is intended to close the gap between civilian computer science resources in the U.S. and the resources available to the military.

The military has spent heavily on supercomputing as part of its Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative, which aims to insure the effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear weapons during the nuclear test ban.

The grant is a boost for the supercomputing center, which has been in decline since March 1997 when it announced plans to close two of its four centers.

The machine will be designed and built by Compaq Computers, and will have a peak performance of about six trillion mathematical operations per second, or six teraflops. The machine will be completely in fall or winter 2001, and will cost about $36 million.

The new computer will be used for a variety of scientific work. Because the new machine will have six times the power of the current fastest nonmilitary computer, it may make fundamentally new science possible.

For full story, go to the New York Times.

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