DOE preps next ASCI buy

NEWPORT, R.I.—The Energy Department is preparing to issue a request for proposals for a new supercomputer that can calculate 30 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraflops), which would be three times more powerful than any system currently being used.

The proposed system, slated for DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative program, is the next step toward the department's goal of a 100-teraflops machine by 2004. IBM Corp. is designing the current increment, a 10-teraflops machine costing $85 million that will be the fastest computer in the world when it is delivered next year.

Gilbert Weigand, DOE's deputy assistant secretary for strategic computing and simulation, told attendees at the National High-Performance Computing and Communications Council's annual conference here that the machine will be installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is one of three DOE labs involved with ASCI.

Sandia National Laboratories currently operates a 1-teraflops machine from Intel Corp. Both Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have a 3-teraflops machine, from Silicon Graphics Inc. and IBM, respectively.

The systems are being used to simulate the conditions of the nation's nuclear stockpile, in support of a treaty banning underground nuclear tests that the United States has signed but that the Senate has not yet ratified.

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