IBM snares $93M ASCI pact for machine at Livermore

Silicon Graphics says it is on-board with DOE too IBM last week won a $93 million contract with the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to build a supercomputer capable of processing 3 trillion to 4 trillion calculations per second.

The award is part of DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative, a program worth more than $900 million over the first five years, to boost supercomputing speeds 1,000 times beyond those of any existing supercomputer.

IBM's computer makes up half of DOE's last ASCI procurement, code-named ASCI Blue. Under the procurement, DOE will purchase two machines, one for LLNL in California and the other for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Silicon Graphics Inc. last week said it was in negotiations with DOE as the apparent winner for the second supercomputer under the ASCI Blue program. Silicon Graphics owns Cray Research Inc.

Los Alamos National Laboratory would not confirm that SGI had been selected. "We expect to conclude negotiations with a potential industrial partner and announce award of a similar-scale system at Los Alamos," said James Rickman, a lab spokesman.

DOE initiated ASCI to support the department's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program. The ultra-fast computers will allow scientists to simulate tests and weapons aging processes through the use of computer modeling.

IBM will deliver the initial components of its computer to LLNL by the end of September, with the first full-fledged dem-onstration scheduled for the end of 1998. The company will build the computer using its RS/6000 processors in an SP2 computing system. The contract was awarded to the IBM Worldwide Government Industry Unit. The system will be manufactured by the IBM RISC/Systems 6000 Division.

"This is a very exciting and profitable business venture for IBM, and it is energizing to our lead computer scientists," said Ken Thornton, general manager of IBM's Worldwide Government Industry Unit.

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