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June 17, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:38pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Intel Corp has at last finished adding processsors to the supercomputer it has been building for the US Government’s Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (CI No 3,166). Last time we looked it was only up to 7,264 200MHz Pentium Pro processors, but now it has 9,200 processors, 573 Gb of system memory and 2.25 Tb disk storage. Consequently it has broken its own benchmarking record, performing the Linpack benchmark at 1.43 trillion operations per second (teraflops), a 25% increase from December, when Intel took the previous claimed record from Hitachi Ltd of 386 gigaflops and broke the one teraflops barrier. The system, installed at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, is housed in 86 cabinets, takes up 1,728 square feet of space, weighs 44 tons and needs 300 tons of air conditioning equipment to keep it cool. Two miles of cable are needed to interconnect the system nodes and cabinets. Its peak power consumption is 850 kilowatts, compared with the 200 watts a typical desktop system consumes. The supercomputer, a joint development of the Department of Energy, Sandia and Intel, will be used to run computer simulations of the US nuclear stockpile in place of physical nuclear testing. But the system has also been used for other calculations, such as simulating the effect that a kilometer-wide comet striking the Atlantic Ocean would have on the world’s continents, using a full 3D model. Not that surprisingly, the system found that large quantities of ocean water would be vaporized by the impact, ultimately causing devastating tidal waves. The result, a cloud of water and debris, would dramatically change the Earth’s climate.

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