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Tera-fyingly powerful

Six teraflop supercomputer unveiled

A 6TF (six teraflop) Terascale supercomputer that will be used for severe-weather forecasting, earthquake modelling and other projects was unveiled recently at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center in the US.

At 6TF, the Terascale is the second most powerful supercomputer in the world after IBM's 7.226TF ASCI White. One teraflop is one trillion floating operations per second, or 1,000,000,000,000 calculations. To get some perspective on those numbers, the Met Office has two supercomputers, neither of which run at more than 1TF.

The Terascale Computing System was built through a joint effort by the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Westinghouse Electric at the PSC, and was developed with Compaq using funding from the National Science Foundation.

The machine was built from 3,000 Compaq Alpha EV68 microprocessors and is housed in 750 four-processor AlphaServer systems running Tru64 Unix. The machine has 6TF of processing power, 3TB (terabytes – which is?) of memory, and high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnections.

The project began last October with the installation of a 256-processor prototype system at the PSC computer room, located in the Westinghouse Energy Center.


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