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Intel creates programme to simplify supercomputers

Intel has created a $36m (£21m) programme to research new ways of simplifying supercomputers.

The company has also formed a parallel and distributed solutions division to develop and market software for users of high-performance computing (HPC).

The division was created last month and is, initially, being run by Richard Wirt, an Intel fellow and the general manager of Intel's software and solutions group.

The division is responsible for grid and parallel processing software and will also support Intel's HPC parallel application centres.

Intel has also launched a three-year advanced computing programme designed to "accelerate the intersection of high-performance computing and volume technologies", said Rick Herrmann, the manager of Intel's high-performance computing programme office.

The programme will employ 50 people from various divisions within Intel, who will work with original electronics manufacturers, government users, and academics to prototype HPC applications. Some may even fund end-user research into this area, Herrmann added.

Intel will also announce its Itanium 2 processors have been selected as the platform for a $20m contract signed between Lawrence Livermore National Labs and California Digital to build a 3,840-processor supercomputer called Thunder.

Thunder is expected to go online sometime in January. It will be a 20-teraflop system made up of 960 four-processor computers running Intel's 1.4GHz Itanium 2 Madison chips.

A teraflop is a trillion mathematical calculations per second. The most powerful supercomputer in the world, the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, is capable of a peak performance of 41 teraflops.

Lawrence Livermore researchers will use Thunder to do basic science research in a wide variety of areas, including structural mechanics, seismology and biology.

California Digital, with 55 employees, acquired the hardware business of Linux startup VA Linux Systems in 2001.

Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service


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