U.S. government gives IBM's ASCI White a public debut

Touted as the fastest supercomputer in the world, IBM Corp.'s ASCI White was given a public dedication at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Wednesday where researchers showed the first scientific data obtained using the system.

ASCI White, which can perform up to 12.3 trillion operations per second, a measurement called a teraflop, covers two basketball courts and weighs 106 tons. The system has 6 trillion bytes of memory and disk capacity of 160 trillion bytes. Created for a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, ASCI White will be used to help simulate nuclear explosions and tests.

The system is the third in a line of supercomputers in the ASCI project set to be built over the next few years. The first two systems ran at 1 teraflop and 3 teraflops. ASCI White was designed to run at 10 teraflops, but exceeded expectations. Forthcoming systems are set to run at 30 teraflops and 100 teraflops.

Supercomputer researchers crowned ASCI White the world's fastest supercomputer, beating out a field of 499 challengers. 215 of the top 500 systems at the time were IBM computers.

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