The most powerful system in the world committed to unclassified research, a six teraflop terascale supercomputer, is up and running on schedule at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC).
Terascale refers to computational power beyond a teraflop - a trillion calculations per second. While several terascale systems have been developed for classified research at national laboratories, the PSC system is said to be the most powerful to date designed as an open resource for scientists attacking a variety of problems.
"That means it's available to researchers at US academic institutions and/or in industry who publish their research and share their findings with the international research community," said Mike Schneider, senior science writer at the PSC.
The Terascale Computing System (TCS) was built as a joint project of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Westinghouse Electric Company, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The brain of the six-teraflop system is a network of 3000 Compaq Alpha EV68 microprocessors, housed in 750 four-processor AlphaServer systems running Tru64 Unix. Along with the processing power, the terascale system features three terabytes of memory, high-bandwidth, low-latency interconnections among AlphaServers, and capabilities for large-scale data handling.
"In scale alone, the TCS pushes beyond where open resource supercomputing technology has been before or would have gone without the NSF's Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure program," said PSC scientific directors Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies in a joint statement.
Levine and Roskies also said that, with storage capacity of 100,000 times that of most PCs, and with 10 million times the communications capability, the system brings significant new research capability to bear on many important problems.
The system will be used in areas of research including earthquake modelling, storm-scale weather forecasting, global climate change and protein genomics, modelling that's integral to the development of new drug therapies.
The TCS installation marks the first operation on this scale of AlphaServer SC, the software that ties AlphaServer systems together.
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