U.S. Energy Dept. lab orders fastest Linux supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has ordered a US$24.5 million supercomputer running the Linux operating system for its facility in Richland, Washington, it announced Tuesday.

Scientists will use the computer to study chemical problems in life sciences, material design, atmospheric chemistry and combustion, PNNL said in a joint statement with supplier Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) of Palo Alto, California. The computer will also be used to study areas including geochemistry and biochemistry, radioactive and chemical waste detection, storage and management, systems biology, genomics and proteomics.

Demand for access to the system is likely to be high, and scientists will be granted access based on a competitive proposal process, the statement said.

HP will supply the supercomputer, consisting of 1,400 of Intel Corp's next-generation Itanium processors, code named McKinley and Madison. The computer will have 1.8T bytes of memory and 170T bytes of disk space, the statement said. One terabyte is one million megabytes.

The computer should reach processing speeds of 8.3T flops (8.3 trillion floating point operations per second) at peak performance, making it the most powerful Linux computer in the world, HP said. It will also be among the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The computer will be installed at the Molecular Sciences Computing Facility within the William R Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE facility at PNNL.

It is expected to be operational in early 2003, the statement said.

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