The French government is investing in Europe's largest supercomputer so that it does not have to keep testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific.
The Compaq computer is part of a plan by the French to avoid courting negative publicity. Pacific governments have been angered by the country blowing up nuclear weapons on their doorstep.
Compaq claims that the machine is seven times more powerful than any other European supercomputer, and is capable of five trillion calculations per second. It is based on 2,560 of the company's Alpha processors and was constructed in just one year.
The French Atomic Energy Commission explained that it liked the scalability and manageability of the computer and the fact that Compaq had delivered ahead of schedule.
Dubbed the Tera, because of its ability to deliver five teraflops of power rather than its function of calculating death and destruction, the computer uses 640 Alpha servers clustered using a purpose built high-performance switch. The system has 50 terabytes of Ram, arranged on a storage area network.
Compaq announced that it will replace the machine with a 12 teraflop version within the next five years.
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