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November 4, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Both Cray Research Inc and Intel Corp’s Supercomputing Systems Division are calling the experts in to get supercomputer applications up and running on their massively parallel machines. Over the last 20 years, a whole mathematical discipline has sprung up, concerned with bludgeoning problems until they will run on vector processors. With the advent of massively parallel machines, a new bludgeon and a new set of mathematical theories are needed. Both manufacturers are looking to high-end users to help provide them. At the launch of its T3D parallel machines last month (CI No 2,263) Cray unveiled its Parallel Application Technology Programme, designed to expand the number of applications available. Not just full applications, though – computational methods and algorithms are also in the frame. To date there are just two fully paid-up members; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena and the Pittsburg Supercomputing Centre. Additionally, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne (Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne) has signed a memorandum of understanding, pending full membership. Cray clearly believes that the future of supercomputing will be parallel for a good proportion of its existing customers, with the rate of transfer from vector to the new technology governed almost solely by the supply of applications. Switzerland has attracted Intel’s attention and the Eidgenssische Techniche Hochschulke – the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – in Zurich is obtaining a 96 processor Paragon XP/S5+ machine worth $1.5m. Intel has its eye on the so-called Grand Challenges of computing; those publicity-friendly, bleeding edge problems that have so far eluded computational solution. The next generation of parallel machines may have the power, but the initial stages entail the development of algorithms for this type of machine by researchers and developers from the areas of fluid dynamics, chemistry, physics, VLSI design… and so the list goes on. There is no news from Intel as to whether it plans to launch a formal programme like Cray’s one.

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